Porirua Cemetery and Hospital History

Porirua Cemetery was publicly notified as being dedicated and open for burials in 1985. The first burial in the cemetery was for Charles Crabbe, his service was held on 13 September 1895.

Porirua Cemetery 1895–1975

In June 1894, members of Hutt County Council made a representation to then Minister of Education William Pember Reeves to establish a new public cemetery at Porirua, as the cemeteries at Tawa and Pāuatahanui were too small and running out of room. Reference was also made to the increasing population in Porirua since the opening of Porirua Hospital in 1887.

They suggested using hospital land (Section 60) bordering John Wall’s property (Section 57, what is now Bluff Road and Rauta Crescent, off Kenepuru Drive). John Wall was the second son of Anthony and Susannah Wall. John remained a bachelor until his death in 1903 and both John and Anthony are buried in Porirua Cemetery.

It wasn’t until November 1895 that the cemetery was publicly notified as being dedicated and open for burials. The first burial in the cemetery was for Charles Crabbe, his service was held on 13 September 1895, and he is buried in the Public Lawn Area, Row A Plot 001. Charles had been committed to an asylum in Auckland in October 1862 and he was transferred to Porirua Hospital on 19 July 1894.

Charles became ill in 1895 and died in 1986 from chronic brain and chest disease. A coroner’s inquest witness statement taken from Doctor Thomas Burns, the hospital’s Medical Superintendent, said that Charles was quiet and used to take the post to the village as well as messages. He suffered from a weak heart and chronic lung disease.

Nearly 2000 graves at the cemetery pre-date 1946. As well patients from the Porirua Hospital, many of the people buried in the cemetery are from prominent settler families of the district, including Ruth and James Gear (established the Gear Meat Preserving and Freezing Co), and Patrick Mungavin (local farmer and breeder of prize-winning Romney sheep).

Later generations who made contributions to Porirua’s story are also buried there, such as Alfred Mexted (local councillor, Porirua Hospital visitor and local historian), Robert and Doris Bothamley (Doris, known as Eva, was the daughter of James and Ruth Gear), Ernest Windley (farmer in the Rānui area and a local councillor), and Kathleen (Kitty) Trask (long-time shopkeeper in the area; Trask Place in the city centre is named for her).

This cemetery holds more than 3500 burials, with over half of them being Porirua Hospital patients. In 2022 Porirua City Council traced that 1844 of these were unmarked and there were at least 200 burials where the records for the burial location had been lost. The cemetery is divided into four areas: Roman Catholic, Church of England, Public Non-Conformist and Public Lawn.

Porirua Cemetery links