Police picked up paintbrushes to help smarten up a Northland cemetery ahead of today’s Anzac Day commemorations.
Dargaville Police station staff, including some front counter volunteers, gave up their time on Saturday mornings over the past few months to help clean headstones and paint plinths in the the Northern Wairoa RSA cemetery.
The 400 granite headstones have been sprayed with moss and mould remover and, before painting begins, it’s a vigorous scrub with a wire brush or paint scraper.
One of the first to help out was Constable Trae Harrison, who says it is important as the descendants of those buried in the cemetery, are part of the community today.
“All these people buried here were once members of the community,” he says.
“We are dealing with the families of these people every day. This is a way we can connect with the community.”
Most of the Police staff were also members of the Northern Wairoa RSA and this was a way of giving back, she said.
For CIB squad supervisor Detective Sergeant Jonathan Tier, the clean-up was personal – his grandfather is buried there.
As he cleared away the moss with a wire brush, Jonathan said the work was about saying thanks to the people went off to the different wars and kept us safe at home.
“It’s about contributing to the community and paying back,” he said.
Constable Rachael Walkenshaw says while she has no connection to the cemetery, her poppa had served in JForce in post-World War Two Japan, and was a member of the King’s Empire Veterans, so helping out was a nice way to remember him.
“It’s a great way to help when help is needed,” she says.
RSA life member, Alvyn Silver says the site was looking its best for today’s Anzac dawn service.
“Some of the headstones were a mess, there were dead plants and there was broken glass. It was just looking like a bit of a mess,” he said.
“The help from police has been very welcome. Having the police come onboard is marvellous.
“In a small community like Dargaville we rely on the police to look after us and make sure everyone is safe, and it’s not always easy,” said Alvyn.