Falling trees smash headstones in storm

23:38, Jun 23 2014
Southland Times photo
GRAVE CONCERNS: Trees fell on to several headstones at Greenpoint Cemetery near Bluff during a storm at the weekend.

The Invercargill City Council has decided to chop down trees at Greenpoint Cemetery after gale-force winds blew over several trees, which crashed on to grave sites.

Council parks manager Robin Pagan said council staff checked on the fallen trees on Saturday after learning they were down.

They decided that, because of the winds, it was not safe to tidy them up at that time.

About 30 gravestones were covered by the trees, and several were damaged.

"We're all upset by this; it's not something we like to see happen," Pagan said. "It affects the cemetery as well, which is quite a sacred place to everyone."

One of Kaye Robertson's family member's graves was affected.

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"It's a bloody mess," she said. "I'm very upset."

Council staff were working to remove the fallen trees yesterday.

"It's important to get them tidied up and any headstones that might have been damaged, to get them tidied up as soon as possible," Pagan said.

Three headstones were dislodged from the base and needed to be repaired.

Bluff Community Board chairman Raymond Fife said the event was unforeseen.

"There are a lot of people upset about it and it's justified because they've got family buried up there," Fife said.

The trees in that row that were still standing would come down within the next few days, because they were a hazard, he said.

Koren Allpress is a journalism student at Aoraki Polytech.

The Southland Times