To new students at Victoria University (myself included), the Mount Street Cemetery may come across as one of the more peculiar sites in Wellington. As it is perched on the hill directly next to the university, I have come across it often and have already integrated it as part of the character of Victoria. The site has a fascinating history – it was the first Roman Catholic Cemetery in Wellington, opened over 170 years ago. Amongst the estimated 1,100 inhabitants are nuns and priests and pioneers from all sorts of cultural and ethnic backgrounds, not only Maori and Pakeha, but cultures abroad as well.
The site itself needs regular care, with the Friends of Mount Street Cemetery organising maintenance of the cemetery where they can. It quickly becomes overgrown with weeds and many of the stones are in a state of disrepair. This was how the opportunity came about for TPV Volunteers to get involved in the project. Our newly formed Te Puni Village hall of residence group, co-ordinated by Residential Assistants involved in the Victoria Plus programme, allows residents an opportunity to get involved in their new community. Through the Victoria Plus programme, the TPV group was provided with the opportunity to do a clean-up project at the site, on the 24th of May.
It was a rewarding experience, spent in the crisp but beautiful autumn sun. With the help of trowels and gloves we cleared away bags and bags of overgrown weeds from around the graves. The overgrown vegetation yielded several surprises, including a hair comb, Canon lens cap, and a small non-functioning laptop. The many large spiders pouring out of one site proved to be another issue that we had to overcome. Thank you so much to Volunteer Wellington and Victoria Plus for allowing us the opportunity to get involved and learn about such an interesting piece of Wellington history!
Guest blog post written by Kahu Kutia, Victoria University first year BA Media Studies student from Whakatane