But before the work can begin, the Small Chapel will be closed from 26–29 January to remove and restore seven stained glass windows – the Main Chapel will stay open in the meantime.
Temporary windows with images of the stained glass windows will be put in place while they are restored. Buildings portfolio leader, Councillor Iona Pannett, says the work is a crucial part of preserving the building’s heritage.
“The Karori Cemetery chapels are valuable community assets and listed heritage buildings, so this initial removal and restoration work on the windows is part of our effort to improve the resilience of our buildings in an earthquake.
“It’s also important for our heritage buildings to keep the characteristics that make them so special for future generations to enjoy,” she says.
Councillor Paul Eagle, Chair of Council’s Community, Sport and Recreation Committee adds that the Karori Cemetery was established in 1891 and is New Zealand's second largest burial ground.
“Our chapels are special places and it’s important that people are safe when mourning loved ones who have recently passed away, or need a place to quietly reflect.”
The current cremator unit will also be replaced during the resilience work, as the current cremator unit is near the end of its serviceable life.
There are seven stained glass windows in the Small Chapel, six of them were designed and built in the An Tur Gloine (Tower of Glass) factory in Dublin. The windows were made by artists Wilhelmina Geddes, Michael Healy and Hubert McGoldrick between 1914-1939.
“Many Wellingtonians wouldn’t be aware that these stunning windows even exist – it’s only when you’re inside that you see how incredibly beautiful the windows are,” says Councillor Eagle.
The windows were commissioned by an English-born Wellington resident, William Ferguson, in memory of his family. The seventh window was a more recent addition, installed in 1990 in memory of John Marten Butt.
The windows will be restored by Stewart Stained Glass Ltd of Rangiora.