Cemetery records now just a mouse click away

Published: Fri 22 Jan 2010 01:05 PM
News Release
  Friday 22 January 2010
128 years of Rotorua cemetery records now just a mouse click away
ROTORUA 22 .01.10: People wanting to locate Rotorua cemetery and crematorium records from anytime in the last 128 years can now do so at the click of a computer mouse.
Rotorua District Council (RDC) has launched a new online service covering Rotorua’s more than 32,000 cemetery and crematorium records, going back as far as 1882.
The free online service is part of an ongoing programme of development of the council’s website, and includes records from five public cemeteries administered by RDC - Rotorua, Kauae, Reporoa, Mamaku and Ngakuru - along with information from the city’s crematorium.
Over recent years council staff have been systematically photographing all headstones in the council’s cemeteries and plotting the location of each grave using GPS satellite technology.
A successful search for a Rotorua cemetery record on the RDC website will typically reveal a photograph of the headstone, the grave’s exact location, an aerial map, names, ages, dates and other associated information.
RDC corporate services director, Jean-Paul Gaston said he expected many people to find the new service a valuable enhancement of the council’s website. He pointed out that on a national basis, cemetery records on council websites were consistently amongst the most accessed sections of online information.
“We’ve taken the time to make sure what we offer is a comprehensive, practical, user-friendly system for accessing these records online and our test results show we have pretty much got it right.
“Before going live we tested the programme with more than 600 active genealogists and other regular users of cemetery records in New Zealand and overseas, and their feedback was very helpful and complimentary about what we’d achieved to date.”
Among those accessing the test site and giving feedback was Bob Vine, technical director for the Local Government Online website. Mr Vine described RDC’s site as “state of the art.” He said he could not see anything that could be improved.
Another person helping test the site was Lou Cowan from Darwin, Australia, who said RDC was “leading the way” in online records. “May this be the benchmark for other authorities to aspire to,” Mr Cowan added.
Mr Gaston said the project was not yet one hundred percent complete and there were a number of records still to be added and some headstones yet to be photographed. He expected these to be completed progressively over the next 12 months.
“We also plan to talk to Ngati Whakaue about the inclusion of photographs for graves located within Kauae Cemetery as these are yet to be included online.
Cemetery and crematorium records held by Rotorua District Council can be searched for on the council’s website [key word: cemeteries]

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