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Daffodils light up Littleton Cemetery, but some graves are still in horrific condition

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Thousands of daffodils are planted to brighten up the earthquake-damaged Lyttleton Cemetery.

Christchurch City Council Community Parks Director Al Hardy said he has already planted 20,000 large daffodil bulbs at Littleton Anglican Cemetery and is planting 20,000 bulbs of daffodils at Lyttelton Catholic and Public Cemetery this month.

The bulbs will flower later this winter or early spring.

Hardy said 40,000 daffodils cost $18,000 and were funded through the City Council’s Green Assets Renewal Program.

The daffodil planting initiative was proposed by the City Council’s Inland Cemetery Conservation Team in December 2019.

Daffodils “elevate appearance, increase the value of amenities, and add more color to our graves,” Hardy said.

There were 3,800 burials in both cemeteries and 95 percent of the burials are classified as heritage which means they date back to before 1950.

Hardy said daffodils were not planted to mitigate severe earthquake damage in the two cemeteries that were not repaired by the council.

The city council inspected all cemeteries after the earthquake to ensure their safety for visitors. Hardy said monuments and tombstones that were deemed “unsafe” were placed on the grounds.

Broken monuments, tombstones and concrete still lie on the hillsides of Lyttelton’s two cemeteries.

Vice President of Veterans Affairs Marty Eller said the organization had been in discussions with city council since 2014 about repairing 50 graves for affected soldiers at Lyttelton Catholic and Public Cemetery.

“Veterans Affairs has always been willing to support reform [soldiers’] “Graves in Littleton,” she said.

Reverend Lyttelton John McCallister said some of the graves in the cemeteries had been in a “horrific state” since the earthquakes. For several years he had been concerned about the damage to the soldiers’ graves.

Banks Peninsula Community Board member Robin Davidson said it was “disappointing” that the cemeteries are still in poor condition, and it would be good to see a plan from the city council on how they intend to repair them.

Andrew Turner, Banks Peninsula Ward City Councilor and Deputy Mayor, said tombstone repairs were “a detailed, specialized work that should be done by professionals which means it’s not cheap.”

Turner said local communities constantly remind the city council that they need to be satisfied with the finances.

It was about finding “the right balance” but he said a long-term solution had to be found to repair the tombs.

It will require some budgetary allocation by City Council “when we have some of the particular constraints that we’re having at the moment.

Written by Ella Somers

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