Explore one of Northland’s oldest cemeteries: A HNZ Heritage Tip

Explore one of Northland’s oldest cemeteries

According to Heritage New Zealand’s Northland Area Manager, Bill Edwards:

“Northland has some great options where people looking for some open space, fascinating history and a pleasant walk will enjoy exploring stories of people from the past,” says Bill.

“As well as providing an oasis of calm away from the bustle of everyday life, historic cemeteries also enable people to reconnect with our shared history through a fascinating lens. They’re also wonderful places for reflection and contemplation while acknowledging the lives of those who have gone before.”

One of Northland’s oldest burial grounds is the Mangungu Mission cemetery at Horeke in the Hokianga. The simply laid-out cemetery is worth exploring with one of the oldest legible grave markers recording the deaths of Joseph Shepard and John Harris, who died by drowning in 1829.

“Other notable people buried in the cemetery at Mangungu Mission include James Reddy Clendon – the man who supported the British Resident, James Busby, in his efforts to unite the northern tribes to prevent the Frenchman Baron Charles de Thierry from establishing himself as a ‘Sovereign Chief’ based in the Hokianga,” says Bill.

“Clendon was also a principal witness to the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1835 and the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. He was also our first US Consul in New Zealand.”

Another person with links to early New Zealand – and who is buried at the Mangungu cemetery – was Samuel Butler. The son of Rev John Butler, who oversaw the building of the Kerikeri Mission Station, Samuel Butler had come to the Hokianga in 1827 where he tried to make a living as a shipping agent and interpreter arranging cargoes for visiting ships.

Life was hard, as Samuel recorded:

“Times will not permit bread every day and drinkables are quite out of the question.”

He must have found some drinkables however as in 1836 he drowned after falling overboard while drunk, leaving his wife Ann to raise their five children.

Besides famous people in history, the cemetery is also the final resting place for many of the district’s earliest settler families.

“The cemetery at Mangungu is an important archaeological site in its own right, and is well worth exploring,” says Bill.

“People can enjoy a day trip exploring the historic cemetery and Mangungu Mission, and trying out the new cycle trail which begins at Mangungu.”

NB – Opening hours for Mangungu Mission vary; check http://www.heritage.org.nz/places/places-to-visit/northland-region/mangungu-mission/visitor-information for more details



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