A managed landscape

Different character areas

When the different cemeteries were first established on this site, they had different characters.

Holt’s plan of the site in 1887 showed the Anglican Cemetery had curved, meandering paths, in keeping with the English School of Landscape, which desired to re-create the ‘picturesque’ in nature.

The Presbyterian and Catholic Cemeteries were of a more ordered, formal layout.

This legacy endures in the current Auckland Council parks management guidelines for the site.

  • <p>Panoramic view looking along Grafton Gully from Symonds St Cemetery c.1869. <em>Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-319.</em></p>
  • <p>Looking across the Catholic graveyard to St Benedict's church, c1880s. <em>Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 589-163.</em></p>
  • <p>View south across town from Grafton Street Bridge over Symonds Street Cemetery, c1955. <em>Whites Aviation Ltd, Ref: WA-38879-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23527405</em></p>

Ornamental zone

The existing Catholic, Jewish and Presbyterian sections are designated an ‘ornamental zone’. This is described in the park landscape plan as “The most formal part of the cemetery, utilizing plant species reflective of…formal gardens, with strong linear patterns and the use of roses and other flowering plants. Overall maintenance will need to be regular and completed to a very high standard” (see the Rose Trail guide).

The Picturesque

The upper parts of the existing Anglican and general/Wesleyan sections are a ‘picturesque zone’ described in this way: “Native and exotic planting creates a dense canopy that shades the area, but also provides a strong structural element to guide users of the site. Retaining this element is key to the creation of the picturesque.”

The picturesque style tends towards ‘variety, movement, irregularity, intricacy and roughness.’ (Hussey, C, The Picturesque, 1967, Frank Cass Publishing Co.) Winding pathways are a key device to achieve this, and to expose different vistas from the site (see the Hobson Walk Trail Guide).

A guideline in the management plan provides an insight to the consistency of this vision : “Consider wildflowers in places inaccessible to mower.”

Naturalistic zone

The lower parts of the Anglican and General/Wesleyan sections are now managed as a ‘naturalistic zone’ which is “kept as an ecological and botanical gem in the central city…Through additional planting pest and weed control, botanical and general biodiversity will continue to exist on site” (see Bishop Selwyn’s Path and Waiparuru Nature Trail Guides)

Paths here will be kept as natural as possible, with no impervious paving.

This area is intended for daytime passage, with no lighting provided.