Here is another of those fortuitous finds we’ve had the good fortune to make. Named after Captain William Cornwallis Symonds, a prominent British Army officer during the early days of colonization of New Zealand (and who later went on to serve as Chief Magistrate of Auckland), the 14 acre Symonds Street Cemetery (established in 1842) was the first official burial ground in the city. Captain Symonds, who, by the way is not buried here, was related to General Charles Cornwallis who surrender to American troops at Yorktown, Va. at the end of the American Revolution. There is some archeological evidence suggesting that the area of the Symonds Street cemetery (also known as the Grafton Cemetery) had been used for Pre-European burials. Divided into four sections, based on religion(i.e. Anglican, Catholic, Jewish, and Presbyterian/Wesleyan), the Cemetery was closed to burials (other than to existing family plots) in1886, when a new municipal graveyard was created in West Auckland. In 1909, the Auckland City Council took over management of the Symonds Cemetery. With the development of the Auckland Southern Motorway during the 1960’s, 4100 bodies were moved and re-interned in other parts of the Cemetery, thus reducing the original size of the burial grounds by one-quarter. Among the early colonists buried here are William Hobson, first governor of New Zealand and co-author of the Treaty of Waitangi (as well as a close, personal friend of Captain Symonds); Archibold Clark, first mayor of the Auckland Borough Council; and Annie Jane Schanackenberg, missionary and sufferage activist.
Tucked away on the western slope of Grafton Gully in Central Auckland, the Symonds Street cemetery was the first official cemetery in the city.
Walking around this burial ground, you can easily forget there is a busy motorway on the other side of the gates.
The gravestones that are readable provide some interesting insights into the history of the area...
...while others are a little more difficult to decipher.
Archival photos , such as this one from the 1880’s, help to fill in some of the historical facts.
The most famous individual buried here is William Hobson...
...the first governor of New Zealand and co-author of the Treaty of Waitangi.
Hobson was also a close friend with Captain Symonds for whom this graveyard is named.
Carl and Lorraine Aveni are two retirees planning on traveling through Europe for at least one year.