Restoration of Avondale grave preserves a piece of history

Publish Date : 04 Jun 2020
Restoration of Avondale grave preserves a piece of history

A piece of the Whau’s history has been salvaged following the restoration of a gravestone in St Ninians Cemetery in Avondale.

The headstone, from the grave of Maggie Franklin, who died aged 36 in 1910, had broken into three fragments and was cracked and dirty. Upon learning about the damage, Whau Local Board arranged for the grave to be restored.


Maggie Franklin was born in Glasgow in 1874, the daughter of George Booklass and Annie Harrison Hope. The Booklass family emigrated to Wellington in 1875, then travelled to Australia.

Maggie met her husband Alfred Edward Franklin there, and journeyed back to New Zealand with him, settling in Avondale around 1905. They lived somewhere on the "Methuen Hamlet", one of the early workman's settlements established in Avondale in the early 1900s. Their son Frank Gordon Franklin was born in Avondale.

Sadly, Maggie died suddenly in 1910, aged just 36, from “asthma” and “cardiac insufficiency”, lasting just one day. Her husband Alfred Franklin took the family back to Australia, never to return.

Maggie Franklin Grave Broken
The damaged grave


Whau Local Board Chair Kay Thomas welcomed the restoration of the grave.

“While Maggie isn’t a ‘famous’ Avondale resident, her grave is by the road, clearly visible in a small graveyard and it is a little bit of our history.

“I’m really pleased we were able to restore it; I know the Avondale-Waterview Historical Society were very keen for it to happen and so to have been able to restore this gravestone underlines our commitment to preserve our heritage.”

The grave has been cleaned, with the Headstone put back together with missing letters replaced and repairs also undertaken where there were cracks in the concrete.

Maggie Franklin Headstone Restored
The fully restored Grave and Headstone of Maggie Franklin

Helping her out one more time

Lisa Truttman, from the Avondale-Waterview Historical Society was also delighted with the restoration.

“We felt that it was important that Maggie's grave be fixed up, the community she came to live in helping her out one more time in a way.

“We were prepared to enter into the process of fundraising and approached council only for information and permission as it is council property. As it turned out, the council went ahead and did the work, helping to preserve a part of our smallest graveyard, and honouring the settlers.

“History isn't just about the famous, the notable - it's also about the ordinary lives, those who came to a place, lived day by day, sent their children to school and baked their bread. Then, sadly, died far too early, and left behind simply a stone in a graveyard to remind anyone they were ever there.”

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