Mum upset reserved plot taken
Someone else buried in her place beside her sonEVAN HARDING
A Southland woman who bought a burial plot in the Wairio Cemetery so she could eventually be buried near her deceased son was left reeling when she discovered another body had taken her spot.
Lesley Robertson said she bought the burial plot off the Southland District Council one year ago because it was located directly behind her son Dean Robertson's grave. He died of melanoma five years ago, age 39.
Ms Robertson went to visit her son at the cemetery near Nightcaps last month and was "absolutely gutted" to discover another person had been buried in her plot.
"I lost the plot, in more ways than one," she said.
Her son had told her shortly before he died that he was afraid she would leave the area and never visit him, but she promised she would do so, and a year ago decided to be buried behind him, she said.
However, it now appears unlikely to happen.
She blamed the Southland District Council, saying she felt for the family of the man buried in her plot because it wasn't their fault.
She had bought the plot for about $200 in September last year and signed paperwork saying she had exclusive rights to it.
After finding her plot taken last month, she fought back tears and drove to the district council office for an explanation.
"They said they were sorry but they hadn't written it in the book. They said there was nothing they could do."
Southland District Council chief executive Dave Adamson said he took full responsibility for the error and apologised to Mrs Robertson and her family.
The council's cemetery files were not computerised and Mrs Robertson's exclusive rights deal had not been recorded, he said.
The council was looking at computerising its cemetery files to "hopefully get rid of these errors" and would work with Ms Robertson and her family to try to find a solution for them, he said early yesterday afternoon.
Mr Adamson rang back at 5pm yesterday to say the council believed it had reached a confidential agreement that would be suitable for all parties.
It is understood Ms Robertson will be given another plot fairly close to her son's, but not as close as the original.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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