As you zip along State Highway Two past the Petone Railway Station you might catch a glimpse out of the corner of your eye of a big cross.
It’s the memorial to those buried nearby.
Korokoro Cemetery was established in 1854 with land donated to the Roman Catholic Church by Te Atiawa chief Hōniana Te Puni-kōkopu.
It closed just over 100 years later in 1957 when the land was taken for roading and the widening of State Highway Two. Rows of graves and headstones were removed and the remains reinterred.
An Act of Parliament was required to authorise laying a drain through the cemetery, the removal and reinterment of certain human remains, the removal of headstones, monuments and grave surrounds, the levelling and planting of the grounds and the erection of a common monument.
While about 44 bodies were reinterred, the rest, on the hillside, remain to this day, although they are covered by scrub and hard to see even up close.
Instead, the cross visible from the road was put up and names added to it, although some names have been lost and not recorded.
The land is still under the care of the Catholic Church along with the Petone hapu of Te Atiawa deciding on joint guardianship or kaitiakitanga of the cemetery.
Some of the names on the cross are of families known in Wellington and the Hutt; Neazor, Villars, Wrigley, Cudby, Bolton and many, many more who helped settle the Hutt.
George Cudby was the son of John Cudby, who arrived in New Zealand in 1843. The family ran a carting and coaching business from Petone. Both were at the opening of the first railway line.
William Neazor came from Limerick in Ireland, did some gold mining on the West Coast but settled in the Hutt Valley and ran a boarding house that was gutted by fire in 1908. He was also a juror on an infamous murder trial of Andrew Somerville for killing Arthur Herbert.
Alongside the towering cross is a much smaller memorial for three men killed in the first World War, military driver Athelstan Edmund Bunny who died of illness on the Western Front, James Casserly who died some years after returning from the war and Joseph Connor (William Neazor’s nephew) who died from his wounds after being discharged.
Do you know of one of these ‘hidden’ cemeteries?