Tue, Jan 24, 2023 12:00 PM

Picton cemetery neglect claims


Paula Hulburt

A widow shocked by the messy state of Picton’s cemetery is calling for council to clean up its act, claiming the lack of care is “disrespectful.”

Picton woman Lynne Neilson was visiting her husband’s memorial last week and was shocked to discover the graveyard overrun with weeds and long grass.

And if council can’t commit to its regular upkeep, she has pledged to create a Friends of Picton Cemetery to help instead.

Lynne says seeing the cemetery looking so uncared for is upsetting.

“I'm saddened at the state of the Picton cemetery where my late husband lays.

“How can we treat these graves with such disrespect?”

Picton Cemetery dates back to the early European settlement of the Marlborough Sounds.


Situated on Gravesend Place, the cemetery is cared for by Marlborough District Council staff. Individual graves and plots though are the responsibility of families.

Lynne says she formally complained to council last year too when a similar issue arose.

“Following that meeting there was action and an improvement, although temporally.

“It's now fallen back into a unkept mess. I'm happy to form a Friends of the Cemetery group to put some love and pride back and treat our deceased with respect.”

Lynne’s husband Gordon died in July 2020 and his ashes are in the Memorial Ashes Garden.

Ensuring the grass is regularly cut should be a priority, she says.

“Given the holiday period I thought, sure people need holidays, but today when most people are back at work, I would have expected it to have been at least mowed.

“Perhaps I'm old school or maybe emotionally involved but for me respect prevails.”

Lynne says any group set up would also care for those plots where it was clear there weren’t any family members to take responsibility.

‘After meeting with Parks and Reserve people they explained the plots belong to the deceased family.

“I get this but as some deceased don't have family to keep them maintained should we just let them go to wrack and ruin?”

A council spokesperson says the recent wet weather has seen rapid grass and weed growth.

“We have alerted our contractors and asked them to tidy this area and we will stay in touch with Mrs Neilson.

“Generally speaking our cemeteries are in good shape and contractors have kept on top of things, but sometimes the weather is against us."

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