As we approach Anzac Day there will be heightened interest in war graves in your cemetery.
Manatū Taonga is the Aotearoa New Zealand agent for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC). As agents for CWGC, Manatū Taonga are responsible for graves of personnel who died between 4 August 1914 and 31 August 1921 and 3 September 1939 and 31 December 1947. They are also responsible for the graves and memorials of all those who have died in wartime from the New Zealand wars of the 1800s through to the most recent casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq. You can read more about their work on their website.
Over the last few years they have been asked for more guidance about what volunteers can do to assist them in the care of these nationally significant graves.
Many of the graves in their care are upright granite services grave. Manatū Taonga is happy for volunteers to give these granite headstones a clean/scrub with water, following the Veterans Affairs’ guidance. They strongly support volunteers undertaking this sort of work. Any further restoration work on graves, other that cleaning those made from granite, should be avoided as this can cause damage
Volunteers are encouraged to report back to Manatū Taonga any further work (beyond just a scrub with water) any of the graves may need. For example, if you see a CWGC grave that needs a re-painting or a biocide treatment (used to kill off any moss growth), it would be great for you to let them know as this is valuable information. They can then arrange for a highly skilled stonemasons to visit the grave and make any necessary restoration work.
To report a grave that needs attention, you can send a photo and the name of the cemetery to firstname.lastname@example.org
Here’s how you can best identify a CWGC war grave:
- To find war graves on the go, you can easily download the CWGC’s mobile app which is available on the App Store and Google Play Store. You can quickly search for cemeteries by name, location, or use your phone’s location to find sites nearby.
- You can also discover the final resting places of World War casualties cared for by Manatū Taonga on the CWGC’s website. Using the dropdown ‘Visit Us’ menu on the homepage, select ‘Find War Memorials and War Cemeteries’.
- You can find a list of all New Zealand sites (by selecting ‘New Zealand’ from the ‘Country’ list), and you can refine further by using ‘Locality’.
Thank you for your help caring for war graves and ensuring those who have passed are not forgotten.