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New cemetery database makes it easier to find plots

New cemetery database

A new database has been launched this month, making it easier to locate people and plots across all four Hastings cemeteries administered by Hastings District Council.

With more than 57,000 records, the cemetery section of the Hastings District Council website is one of the top 10 most visited pages, and with this new specialist cemetery software people will have easy access to even more information, says cemetery manager Lloyd McDonald.

The system provides satellite maps of the cemeteries at Hastings, Havelock North, Mangaroa and Puketapu, which accurately show the locations of the plots.

“With your smart phone you search the person you are looking for on the database and then use GPS in conjunction with Google Maps, which will walk you directly to the grave. You can also download and share directions with others,” Mr McDonald said.

As part of the rollout of the new technology, all the photographs of the plots are being updated in the system to help with identifying plots, and this process is ongoing.

Mr McDonald said it was hoped that within a year all the photos would be updated, and from now on cemetery staff would take photos of any new headstone or plaque to add to the system.

Behind the scenes, a long-running project is underway to transfer Hastings’ old hand-written burial records into an easily searchable format, which supports the new database.

The aim is to check and upload the records dating back to the 1880s to make them available online.

In 2017, Luke Maton began this job having been employed by Hastings District Council under the Te Rangatahi mā, Kia eke project - a partnership between Council and the Ministry of Social Development which aimed to help people aged 16 to 24 who were having difficulty finding employment.

Luke said it’s a fascinating job.

“Especially when you get two [historic] records that seem to contradict each other. I am one of those people who love detail so solving the mysteries is fascinating to me.”

All councils are required to operate their cemetery facilities according to the Burial and Cremations Act, 1964, which includes instructions on how records must be kept.

8 July 2021

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