Graves may be under new bus stop

MARNIE HALLAHAN
Last updated 05:00 16/10/2012
Gail Lyons
MARNIE HALLAHAN

LONG WAIT: Gail Lyons at Mt Victoria cemetery.

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It may be shiny and new but the replacement bus stop outside Devonport's Mt Victoria cemetery could be encroaching on historic graves, Gail Lyons says.

Ms Lyons helped restore the cemetery six years ago and has been campaigning against the sale of the neighbouring St Pauls Presbyterian Church since it was put on the market last year.

"It is an archeological site, and now to extend the bus stop further into the cemetery is just ridiculous," she says.

"I have spent years trying to restore these graves and people come along and do willy nilly things and it is so disrespectful."

Ms Lyons says her research shows there are many unmarked graves around the edge of the cemetery and one somewhere under the pavement.

"Right behind where the bus stop is is William Oliver's grave but there are only rumours as to where it is," she says.

"The council have known about this since 1990s, they could have built the bus stop right on top of him," she says.

But a spokesman for Auckland Transport says the new shelter is not any deeper than the previous one and only slightly longer.

"Historically the shelter may have encroached slightly into the graveyard, but this did not cause a problem and there have been no complaints from the residents nor from the Presbyterian Church," Mr Hannan says.

A new bus shelter was installed on the basis of a North Shore City Council policy to replace the old type of shelter because of age and the risk of entrapment.

Mr Hannan says a registered survey costing several hundred dollars would be required to ascertain the exact location of the church graveyard boundary and would only be carried out if there is a complaint from the landowner.

The landowner, Northern Presbyterian, and its lawyers, have been trying to sell the property since last year.

It was listed by Harcourts for $1.72 million and marketed as a "heavenly home".

Residents, including Ms Lyons, fought the sale which led to Northern Presbyterian taking it off the market and looking at options to subdivide the land to separate the cemetery from the church.

But Ms Lyons says this is not possible and considering the church is a category A historical building and has earthquake stability issues its future should be carefully considered.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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