News | 26 November 2021
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Friday Five: Interesting people buried in Bolton Street Cemetery

Bolton Street Cemetery holds many interesting people. Here are five graves that you can visit during your lunch break.

A gravestone with red flowers growing behind it.

1. Sarah Dougherty (nee McAulay) 1818 - 1898 

Sarah Dougherty was well-travelled by the time she arrived in New Zealand. By the tender age of 24, she had lived in Ireland, Canada, Australia, England, and New Zealand.  

When she was 18, she ran away from her family home in Canada to marry Daniel Dougherty. The two then moved to Wellington where Daniel passed in 1857. After his death, Sarah established a boarding house in Ghuznee Street which hosted a variety of ‘desirable guests’. Sarah moved to Thorndon in 1869 where she continued to take in boarders until her death.  

Sarah’s many talents included dressmaking and gardening. 

A gravestone in the sunshine.

2. Te Ropiha Moturoa 1790(?) - 1874 

Te Ropiha Moturoa also moved to the Wellington region later in his life. He and his two brothers travelled here (more specifically to the area formerly known as Port Nicolson) in 1827. Here, he signed Te Tiriti on the 29th of April 1840 for Te Ati Awa.

He became a senior chief at Pipitea Pā. He held land off Tinakori Road, Aro Street, section two of Pipitea Pā. Moturoa Street was his main residency where he lived in a ‘neat’ weatherboard house and grew a commendable crop of potatoes

His skills as a grandparent were also of note. The first line of his gravestone reads ‘he kaumatua pai’ (he was a good grandparent). 

A gravestone with lichen growing on it.

3. Ellen Taylor 1829 - 1851 

Ellen Taylor did not spend much of her life in Wellington, arriving three years before her death in August 1849.  

With her cousin Mary, she built a small two-story house on the corner of Dixon and Cuba Street.  
In front of the house, they opened a drapery and clothing shop. Ellen and Mary shared the shop, alternating between one week working in the shop and one week doing their housework.  

Ellen’s short life ended due to tuberculosis. Her cousin nursed her in illness. 

A gravestone on the back of a large sculpture of a man.

4. Henry Edmond ‘Harry’ Holland 1868 - 1933 

Harry was born in Australia, moving to New Zealand in 1912. Compared to today's standards, his schooling was very short. He left school at 10 to enter the workforce.  

Most well known in New Zealand for his stint as the leader of the Labour Party between 1918 and 1933, he also stood as a candidate for the Socialist Labor Party in Australia in 1901. 

His dramatic grave lies deep in Bolton Street Cemetery, near the Wellington Botanic Garden ki Paekākā's Kinross Street entrance.  

A gravestone in three slabs on the ground.

5. John Balmer 1832 - 1852

John Balmer was a member of the 65th regimental band. After a performance on Wellington Anniversary Day, he and his bandmates went for a swim in Lambton Harbour. After his friends got out, John made the decision to stay in the water. 

four-metre-long shark then attacked John, leaving him with fatal injuries. He died soon after on a boat that was only 20 metres away at the time of the attack. His body was taken to the nearby Thistle Inn.

John Balmer remains Wellington’s only shark attack victim.

Watch out each Friday for a fun list of five great activities to do, places to explore, or things to discover in our awesome city.