Mortuary Chapel at Porirua Cemetery

Within 10 years of the official opening of the Porirua Cemetery in 1895, the Porirua Cemetery committee discussed he subject of building a small shed for storing equipment, such as pegs and tools, as well as books (at its meeting in November 1905). It would also provide shelter for religious ministers officiating at funerals. By its next meeting on 27 June 1906, the building had been completed.

At its May 1913 meeting, Reverend Frederick Herbert Petrie (a cemetery trustee since 1910 and vicar for the Anglican Pāuatahanui Parochial District 1909–1911) requested an investigation be undertaken to build a mortuary chapel in the cemetery, with specifications and estimated costs to be presented at the next meeting.

At the May 1914 meeting, it was agreed to call for tenders to erect a mortuary chapel according to specifications and plans prepared by John Campbell (architect for the New Zealand Government 1899–1922). The tender submitted by local builder Albert Henry Mildenhall was accepted to build the chapel for 189 pounds. A committee was formed to oversee arrangements, with the following stipulations:

  • work should be completed within three months of signing the contract
  • a fine of ten shillings would be imposed per day past the agreed three months
  • not more than 75% of progress payments to be made
  • final payment not made until three months after the completion of the building.

By November 1914, the chapel was completed on the same site as the shed built in 1905/1906. This involved some extra requirements, such as concrete to raise the foundations a little higher than had been indicated in the specifications.

It was agreed to appoint William Conwick as caretaker of the mortuary chapel. He had been acting as the cemetery’s sexton since 1913. William died in November 1918 as one of the many victims of the influenza epidemic. Mr Charles Greer was appointed as sexton for the cemetery.

At the March 1919 meeting, it was agreed that Mr Mildenhall should be contracted to separate the mortuary chapel and the original shed, now known as the sexton’s shed.