Omaka Cemetery


One of the oldest and most well known cemeteries in the Marlborough District is Omaka Cemetery, which lies south west of the town's centre.

Omaka Cemetery IMG 1113

Omaka Cemetery. Image supplied by author

The cemetery consists of three lawns numbered: New Cemetery (No.1 Lawn), Old Catholic (No.2 Lawn) and No.3 Lawn which is the newest part of the cemetery. Omaka cemetery is as old as Blenheim itself and is the final resting place of many key figures.

Some of these notable people are:

  • New Zealand Cross recipient Arthur Wakefield Carkeek, who received the cross for gallantry, when he trekked through hostile territory to deliver information to Thomas McDonnell. He was buried with full military honours at Omaka Cemetery at the age of 54.
  • Photographer James Chinn, known for his floral studies of exotic flowers grown in his conservatories.
  • New Zealand Cricketer George Fenwick Cresswell, who was the 50th test cap for New Zealand.
  • Member of Parliament Henry Dodson
  • Eckford & Co founder Thomas Eckford who brought boats up the Opawa river to his docks, where supplies could be delivered by water to avoid carting them from Picton.
    Omaka Cemetery IMG 1145

    Omaka Cemetery. Image supplied by author

  • Pioneer Mechanic William Fairweather who invented his patented flax stripper, which was used throughout the colony.
  • Kimble Bent - rebel figure of the New Zealand Wars, who fought against Pakeha aggregation in the North.
  • F. J. Litchfield - First mayor of Blenheim.
  • James Sinclair -  One of Marlborough's earliest businessmen.
  • Miles Cheesman -  Founder of Birch and Co with J. Birch (inventor of the first fully New Zealand Car)
  • James Edward Oliver - Designer of the Seymour Square Gardens.
  • Michael Joseph Higgins - Died 1908. Interred in a large vault in Old Cemetery.
  • Richard McCallum - a Liberal Party Member of Parliament in New Zealand and Mayor.
  • J. M. Hutcheson -  Mayor of Blenheim.
  • Ted Meachen -  Labour Party politician.
  • Charles. H. Mills - Member of Parliament for Waimea and Wairau, in the South Island.
  • J.J. Corry - an Australian-born racehorse owner who became Blenheim’s mayor in 1912.
  • Robert McArtney - Mayor 
  • Mary Muller, New Zealand campaigner for womens suffrage and rights, and her husband Dr Stephen Lunn Muller, Surgeon and member of the Provincial Government 
  • Ada Redwood, Marlborough's first woman Councillor.
  • William Budge, surveyor for the New Zealand Company who supervised the cutting of the route from Tophouse to the Wairau.
  • Joseph Ward, another early surveyor
  • William Robinson, Methodist - the first local preacher at Rapaura. 
  • Rev. Henry Francis Butt, Archdeacon of Marlborough
  • Rev. Thomas Samuel Grace, Archdeacon of Marlborough who succeeded Butt.

Many more graves of notable people are present in the cemetery, however, many records have been lost or never recorded. Kimble Bent's burial location is known only by a few people, to protect his grave from vandalism.

The cemetery also has a large area dedicated to the R.S.A where some victims of the two World Wars are interred.

2019. Updated August 2020

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