Palmerston North City Council and the local RSA signed an agreement this month which allows the organisation to manage the restoration of the graves within the services area of the cemeteries.
We'd been following Veterans Affairs recommendations that families need to give consent for the headstones to be restored. But the local RSA says that's hard to do, despite numerous public appeals.
Kathy Dever-Tod, PNCC Manager Parks and Reserves, says the agreement is the honourable thing to do.
“We all want to remember the sacrifice these veterans made, and this agreement honours that. We’re pleased that people walking through the cemeteries will now be able to read the names of those who once fought for our country, and see that their graves are being kept in great condition.”
The Immediate Past President of the Palmerston North RSA, Ian Bailey, says they’re pleased to have reached an agreement.
“We’re also grateful for the assistance we're going to get from the local Cadet Force Unit and personnel from Linton Army Camp, who'll work under the Remembrance Army's local representative, Leanne Hickman in this major undertaking.”
The veteran graves in other areas of the cemeteries aren’t included in the agreement as the headstones aren’t of a standard design or material, are very old, and many are in a poor state – so we don’t want to risk them being damaged further.
Veterans Affairs has recently set up a group to come up with a standardised approach for these older graves. Once this is complete we'll discuss their restoration with the RSA.
The RSA will still need to get permission from the families of other veterans to restore headstones in other areas of the cemeteries.
The headstones will be restored under guidelines set by the NZ Remembrance Army. The process includes spraying the headstone to kill lichen and moss. Once cleaned, the lettering is repainted.