Blenheim man Don Henry no longer has to spend hours trawling through microfiche records to research his family history, thanks to a new online cemetery database.
The details of about 19,000 Marlburians buried in the region since 1890 are now more readily accessible after the Marlborough District Council made them available online.
Fairhall, Havelock, Omaka, Picton and Tuamarina cemeteries are listed, and can be searched by surname, first name, cemetery or year of burial.
The database will also have searchable maps in the next six months, and photos of individual graves.
Rural cemeteries, including Taylor Pass cemetery in the Awatere and Mahakipawa cemetery on Queen Charlotte Drive will be uploaded in the future.
It will make research for genealogists like Mr Henry, who has been researching his family history for about 12 years.
Mr Henry would no longer have to look through the database by hand at the Blenheim branch of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists research rooms at Brayshaw Park.
"It makes our hobby so much easier if it's searchable online."
Council reserves and amenities officer Nic Crous said council staff fielded inquiries from people wanting cemetery information on a daily basis.
Genealogists often wanted details of about 30 people at a time, which took days and often cost money if it required extensive searching, Mr Crous said.
In comparison, the new system was "very quick and easy", he said.
Since the database was launched last month, 5000 users had used it, with 13,000 page views.
Mr Crous said council staff had manually entered records into the system since September 2006.
"There were thousands and thousands. We are delighted – it's taken many years."
To access the database, go to marlborough.govt.nz, click on services, and cemeteries.
- The Marlborough Express