Tokanui Cemetery memorial wall revealed - funding needed

Maurie Zinsli, project restoration manager for Tokanui Hospital Cemetery brushes up a mounted headstone that will hold ...
CHRISTEL YARDLEY/FAIRFAX NZ

Maurie Zinsli, project restoration manager for Tokanui Hospital Cemetery brushes up a mounted headstone that will hold plaques for each person buried in the cemetery.

A striking memorial for former psychiatric hospital patients has been unveiled, as those behind the project issue a last-minute fundraising appeal.

More than 450 former patients are buried in a field at Tokanui in the southern Waikato, near the former site of Tokanui Psychiatric Hospital. 

For 40 years, a plaque set in a concrete block beside a farm gate had served as the only reminder that they are there.

An artist's impression of the Tokanui Cemetery memorial wall, set to be unveiled in February.
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An artist's impression of the Tokanui Cemetery memorial wall, set to be unveiled in February.

An artist's impression has been unveiled of a memorial honouring the former patients, but project chairman Maurie Zinsli said there were unknowns around who would meet ongoing expenses once the wall is installed.

The curved wall will be made from black granite and will include an etched design along with the names of all those buried in the cemetery.

A flag will fly over the memorial and a seat will allow people to reflect he said.

The wall, sponsored by James R. Hill Funeral Directors, will be unveiled at Tokanui Cemetery early next year.

"There are a small number of expenses coming up to finish this project, and there will be the future maintenance and upkeep to cover," Zinsli said.

Historically, the Department of Conservation-managed cemetery has been maintained by inmates from Waikeria Prison, but Zinsli said this is no longer an option.

"The prison is now a remand centre and they don't take remand prisoners out on work duties."

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Zinsli said site maintenance would be easier once the ground was levelled off.

An ASB Bank account has been opened for people wanting to assist with costs for the current project, as well as future work and maintenance on the memorial and cemetery.

"The idea is to get as much money in the bank as we can so if anything pop up there's something in there to sort it out."

To contribute to the ongoing maintenance costs of the cemetery, donations can be made to ASB bank account: Tokanui cemetery restoration project, account number: 12-3134-0061582-00.

For more information visit tokanuihospitalcemetery.weebly.com

 - Stuff

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