Thank you to everyone for their suggestions on how to handle the problem I had with
photographing the grave.
I can report that it has now been photographed and has been emailed to the woman in
From the burial records I have worked out the name and address of the
lady I encountered on Saturday and also sent these details to the lady in Australia. If
she choices to contact this woman it is up to her.
As a side note I was stopped once by a man in the Addington cemetery in Christchurch and
told I could not photograph graves. He showed me a sign by the entrance way which says it
is prohibited to take photographs in this cemetery. I wonder if this sign is still there.
I took a photograph of the sign because I could not believe what I was reading.
----- Original Message -----
From: Catriona Williamson
To: Heather Bray ; N.Z Gen List
Sent: Monday, December 01, 2008 2:21 PM
Subject: Re: [nz] re graves
I have to agree with the other listers. Go back and take the photograph your Australian
contact wants. Just do it when the widow/ mother is not there.
Unless the Northern Cemetery is a trust cemetery, (effectively privately owned but
looking very publicly accessible), you have every right to be there. If Dunedin City
Council administers the cemetery, then it is likely publicly owned. No problem.
In terms of the information on the grave, assuming that it is a publicly administered
cemetery, that information is also public; it just might take a little time to dig it all
out and piece it together so neatly. But it is public. Some people do not realise how
much of our so-called private and personal information is actually available to very
nearly EVERYONE else!
As for taking photographs, in days gone by, we would have gone armed with pencil and
paper, recording the details that way. These days, we take photographs. It is still
recording the information.
It occurred to me that there may to two reasons why the woman was upset. One is that
the grave may be the resting place of a recent death, maybe either the husband or son.
The other is that the grave may be the resting space of someone in the family the woman
does not approve of. Her refusal to have you take a photo, in the second instance, is a
little like the refusing to acknowledge the skeletons in the family closet. And... as we
all know, that is akin to sanitising the family history, something we have discussed here
So go take the photograph and don't feel guilty about it. Public space and public
Catriona and Bruce
On 1/12/2008, at 9:05 AM, Heather Bray wrote:
I had an interesting experience here in Dunedin on Saturday.
A lady on the Victoria, Australia rootsweb list asked me to photograph a
grave for her in the Northern Cemetery in Dunedin. The grave was of her
great great grandfather's sister who left Victoria in 1862 and settled in
Dunedin with her New Zealand husband.
On Saturday I visited the cemetery and found the grave. There was a lady at
the grave putting on fresh flowers. The grave has four burials (according to
the headstone) and about five modern cremation plaques for recent ash
I explained to the woman why I was there but the lady refused to let me
photograph the grave. Her husband and son's ashes are buried there. She said
the grave is personal to her family and no business of the relative in
Australia who is not a direct descendant.
I know other cemeteries around New Zealand have bans on photographing graves
and as this lady was clearly upset I did not take the photograph and have
let the lady in Australia know. She wants me to go back and take the
photograph and there is no need for the woman to know.
What do other's think of this? What would others do in this situation?
Catriona and Bruce Williamson