An open and honest telling of Taranaki Cathedral’s past will help more people understand the church’s role in the region’s turbulent... read more
The Garden of Remembrance attracts many visitors, both local and tourists. It is located close to the upstairs entrance to the Hatherly Hall (which adjoins the cathedral), and is landscaped around two Awanui cherry trees.
The garden incorporates places to sit and be quiet; stone carvings; attractive vegetation and a large area of ground set aside for burial of ashes, attractively covered with bark to keep weeds away.
When a request is received for a burial, a method known as “trenching” is used. In a way, it is closest in principle to the scattering of ashes, The process entails a shallow trench or hole being dug in the soil. The ashes are carefully poured into the trench (normally in the shape of a cross), and then the soil is raked over at the end of the ceremony.
There is no casket or other item buried with the ashes. There are no markers or tablets incorporated into the garden, to avoid the space quickly filling up and the garden's useful life being quickly over (we intend this to be the only such garden the cathedral ever needs).
Instead, a hand-inscribed book, lodged and kept open in the cathedral, is used to record burial of cremated remains. Each entry indicates, keyed to a plan, the location where the burial of ashes took place; the details of the person laid to rest; an epitaph; the date of the service, and the minister who conducted it.
Gradually, the garden will be used for burials of ashes, place by place, until, many yearslater, the first approximate location is returned to – by which time the ashes there interred will have become a part of the ground.
Early in 2013 people were invited to inscribe a stone with a name, or a special dedication, and these were set into some of the pathways in the garden, indicating our part in the life of the church as Living Stones.
The garden was ready for use in mid-2013. A brief service accompanied each burial – conducted by one of the cathedral ministry team. It is open for all people to apply for their loved one's ashes to lie at rest in the churchyard. There is a fee, which helps to offset the installation and upkeep of the garden; a discretionary fund assists where this poses a problem.
“Our aim,” says Dean Jamie, “is to provide a quiet resting place, on holy ground, in the environs of the place we know and love so well.”