IN a “fairly unique event”, Southlanders gathered at Lochiel’s Forest Hill Cemetery on Saturday to commemorate 100 years since the first interment.
Led by bagpipes, community members honoured the milestone, acknowledged their ties to the land and shared stories of those they had laid to rest over the years.
Forest Hill Cemetery Trust member and Emcee Cam Brisco said the organising committee was “delighted” with the number of people who went along.
“It’s a fairly unique event. I don’t think it’s very often people gather for an interment at a cemetery.”
The grave belonged to Australian-born, Southland local, George Farbrace Boyes Poynter, who died aged 79 on August 19, 1920.
It was also marked with the names of his wife, Clara Alexandrina, who died 11 years later, aged 90, and their son, William Duncan, who died in 1918 aged 35.
Trustee and grounds-keeper Stuart McKerchar said the family was “very private” and joked they would have “hated” being made a fuss of all those years later.
The 100-year mark was a “significant milestone” in the history of the district.
“It’s a community asset and a part of the fabric here.”
The cemetery reserve of 18 acres was leased for about 50 cents per acre when it first opened in 1920, and had been taken care of by the community for 32 years prior to opening.
“Fencing, establishing shelter, organising leases and preparing ground for use are the topics that dominate the meeting minutes right up until 1920.”
He acknowledged the commitment of all those who had cared for the cemetery and ensured it remained open.
“We owe them a hearty vote of thanks.”