The site of Masterton’s cemetery was chosen almost accidentally when a bundle of clothes was found on the banks of the Waipoua River. A party of men went looking for the body while Richard Iorns dug a grave in an empty paddock near the river. It turned out there was no body, just a pile of clothes, but Iorns caught a chill while digging in the stony soil. It turned to pneumonia and he died. He was buried in the grave he dug.
Until 1878 there was no record of the burials in the unofficial cemetery, but following the establishment of the Masterton Cemetery Trust a register was kept. You can now search this register online on the Council website.
A database available allows users to find photographs of headstones.
Masterton District Council also administers other public cemeteries at Mauriceville, Hastwell and Tinui. These cemetery records are not online but the Wairarapa Archive has copies and is happy to help researchers.
Other Wairarapa cemeteries
Carterton District Council has an online cemetery search available.
Northern Wairarapa cemeteries can be search at the Tararua District Council’s site.
South Wairarapa District Council does not offer an online search but its staff can help with cemetery enquiries, and the Wairarapa Archive has copies of monumental inscriptions for its cemeteries.
Many other New Zealand councils have made their cemeteries searchable online. Local Government New Zealand Online has a comprehensive guide.