Friday, May 15, 2015

Historic fence

I apologise in advance if anyone does not feel comfortable around cemeteries.  But here today I have a fence too special to not be featured.  It was built around the church and graveyard at the Waimate North Mission in 1878  and is made from totara, a lovely native tree.  Fences around graveyards are part of Maori tradition.


The above is looking right from the lynch-gate.  The next is looking left.  You will notice to the left of the lynch-gate the fence has the modern addition of a water tap (underneath 'Water' it specifies not for drinking).  In days gone by there would have been a bowl of water of some description.  A Maori cemetery is one of the most tapu (be sacred, prohibited, restricted) places in all of Maori society.  No eating, drinking or smoking is permitted within its boundaries since those activities are noa (the antithesis of tapu).  People leaving the urupa (burial ground) are expected to wash their hands with water and sprinkle some on their heads, to reduce the tapu to the safe state of noa.  
 
 

Here the fence separates the graves from a neighbouring paddock.



I imagine this fence would once have been very grand.  You can see the perimeter fence in the background to the right. 


Next door to the churchyard a similar styled fence protects the little blacksmith's cottage (I think that's what it was) from the paddock behind.


If you are interested in Maori customs surrounding death go to this site.  It explains well the customs practised here in the north and is my go to site when I need help to understand why things are done in a certain way.

I have no idea why there are different fonts appearing in this post.  One of Blogger's little mysteries.

I'll be linking to Good Fences and this weekend really will be around to visit other contributors.  

17 comments:

  1. Hello Pauline, it is interesting reading about the customs of the Maori people.. I have no fear visiting cemeteries. I have found some to be very interesting and I like to read the grave stones. Great fence shots, enjoy your day!

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  2. I enjoy visiting cemeteries because of the view of local history they provide. Respect for the dead is an important part of our shared humanity, I believe.
    Such an interesting post.

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  3. A good look round and everyone in a cemetery is as comfortable as can be.

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  4. Fascinating how different burial customs are, and customs surrounding cemeteries.

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  5. As a child I felt uneasy, but later in life I realized just what beauty and remarkable stories are waiting to be discovered. Very peaceful too.

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  6. i like the rustic perimeter fencing as well as the individual gravesite fences. some older cemeteries here in the states have individual family plots fenced with small fences. :)

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  7. You should never be afraid to visit a cemetery as will definitely not be bothered.

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  8. Great fence post as you describe in detail the cultural details that go along with the fence.

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  9. Really interesting...I like the fence...and like the fence around the individual grave, too.

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  10. Thank you for sharing the traditions of the Maori people Pauline. Your photogrphs are great, and the cemetery is beautiful. I love how the fence surrounds it.

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  11. I LOVE cemeteries! in fact I posted about the paparoa cemetery a while back. So much history!

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  12. It look a lovely fence round the cemetery

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  13. Thats a lovely old fence and it comes with an interesting tradition.

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  14. Hi Pauline, thank you for sharing such interesting cemetery customs from the Maori.
    The fences are lovely with a special charm.
    Great shots of a beautiful resting place.
    Have a nice weekend.
    CM

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  15. I love wandering around in old cemeteries. I'm always on the lookout for statuary, especially angels. Love your variety of fences in this post. Of course my favorite would be the little iron fence around the plot of graves.

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  16. Fascinating post and gorgeous photos.

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  17. neat fence and interesting history.

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