Seaview Hill Road, Hokitika Public Cemetery, Hokitika
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 2
Private/No Public Access
2nd April 2004
Extent of List Entry
Registration includes the structure and land on Reserve 453 Provincial Gazette 1867, p.201.
West Coast Region
Res 453 (Provincial Gazette 1867, p.201)
The history of the Hungerford Mausoleum in Hokitika's Seaview Cemetery is uncertain and open to conjecture.
The inscription on the main panel reads:
Thomas Walter, died 28th Feb,1873 aged 18 months.
Thomas Walter, died 18th Feb, 1874 aged 10 months
Sons of Thomas Walter Hungerford and Eliza M. Delaney, youngest son of Richard Hungerford and Mary Cranfield Campbell of Corrigan, County Cork, Ireland.
Also interred in this mausoleum- Thomas Knowles only son of Morgal Christian. RVB.
Died April 2nd, aged 53 years. "Not my will but thine be done."
According to cemetery records the mausoleum has just the three occupants, named above. It is a sober reminder of the high rates of infant mortality in colonial New Zealand that the two Thomas Walters died within a year of each other. Their parents evidently moved away from this area as no record has been found of them on the West Coast after the 1870s. Alexander George Hungerford, timber merchant, was a prominent citizen of early Hokitika, and served on the first borough council in 1866-7. He and Thomas Walter Senior are the only Hungerfords recorded in Hokitika at this time. Perhaps A. G. Hungerford was a grandfather, or an uncle?
More is known about the third occupant of the mausoleum, Thomas Knowles Christian, who died on April 2, 1878, aged 52. The West Coast Times (3/4/1878) reported:
There are many in this district and in other parts of this colony who will regret to hear of the sudden death of Mr Thomas K. Christian, bailiff of the court here. Mr Christian had only been ailing for a few days. He was attending to his usual avocations last week when he caught a cold, which resulted in inflammation of the lungs. Though he was carefully attended by all available medical aid, he lingered only a short time. Much sympathy has been expressed in town by the friends of the deceased for Mrs Christian's sad and unexpected trail, coming as it has, so quickly after her own severe and protracted illness. As an officer of the Court, M Christian was ever assiduous and obliging, and in his private acquaintanceship, he had formed many warm friends, some of whom had come from Greymouth hearing that that he had been dangerously ill, to render what assistance might be in their power.
It is unclear what (if any) relation Thomas Christian was to the Hungerfords, or why he was interred in their mausoleum. It has been suggested that Mrs Christian may have been a member of the family.
The mausoleum, the largest monument in the Hokitika cemetery has intrigued visitors for many years. It was clearly intended to provide for a large number of interments but its many marble panels remain blank.
Historical Significance or Value
It has cultural and historical value as an illustration of the customs and values associated with death in the Victorian period.
The Hungerford Mausoleum has technological significance as an early and unusual example of the use of concrete.
(a) it stands as exemplar of Victorian ideas of status, and customs of death.
(g) It has technological value as an early example of concrete construction.
(j) The mausoleum has rarity value as an example of concrete used on a massive scale in funerary architecture, and as a type of funerary monument seldom seen in New Zealand. It is the only one in a West Coast cemetery.
The mausoleum is a massive concrete structure, eleven feet square (3.37 metres), with a cruciform barrel-vaulted roof. Concrete paving surrounds two sides of the structure and at the front, where the inscribed panel is located, there is a concrete covered area eleven feet by eight feet (3.37 by 2.8 metres) enclosed by a post and rail fence. Each side of the mausoleum features a central arch with two smaller flanking arches, all defined by concrete pilasters. The capitals of these pilasters provide a stringcourse separating the base from the curving roof structure.
On one side is the iron entrance door, now rusted closed and no longer needing the original padlock, with a decorative iron ventilator in the arch above it. In a rondel over the door is a carved coat of arms. Altogether, provision was made for a large number of inscriptions to be added in the many marble panels.
Concrete, with iron door and marble panels.
7th September 2004
Report Written By
West Coast Times
West Coast Times
New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT)
New Zealand Historic Places Trust
West Coast District Committee file
P. Read, Enter the Crypt - A Brief Look at Some of the Famous and Not So Famous Residents of Hokitika's Seaview Cemetery, West Coast Historical Museum, 1999.
A fully referenced version of this report is available from the NZHPT Southern Region Office.
Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.