We are performing critical repairs to an underground cable in the Mount Street Cemetery.
Urgent Network Repair
During June 2020 we are carrying out critical repairs to an underground cable which runs through the Mount Street Cemetery in Kelburn. The cable goes to a substation at Victoria University. It supplies the University campus and parts of Kelburn, Aro Valley and the CBD.
Part of the cable near the top of the Mount Street Cemetery developed a fault last year. After a great deal of research and planning it was decided the most efficient and least disruptive option was to repair the cable where it has failed.
Planning, consultation and seeking the required approvals has taken the best part of the last year.
In April the Wellington City Council granted a resource consent with strict conditions. In May Heritage New Zealand granted a consent for Wellington Electricity to carry out the necessary repairs, again with strict conditions.
Mount Street Cemetery is one of Wellington’s oldest. It was established in 1841 following a request from Bishop Pompallier for a purely Catholic cemetery. It was used until 1891 when Karori Cemetery opened. The last interment took place in 1954 in a family plot. There are around 200 headstones. However, it is thought around one-thousand people were buried here.
Wellington Electricity has worked closely with the Friends of Mt St Cemetery which has done extensive work researching the history of the cemetery and plotting the location of all those who were buried.
The cable was laid in 1926 along a route that skirts the edge of the Mount St cemetery. It is buried about one metre below the surface. Today we would not lay a cable in a cemetery. However, it is there and is a key part of the city’s electricity network and has been for nearly a century. Cables like this often have significant lifespans and we actively maintain them to ensure we maintain a robust, efficient and cost-effective network for our customers.
We determined the likely location of the fault is at a joint in the cable at the top of Mount St. The joint was installed in 1967. Ground Penetrating Radar mapping, which allows us to see objects below the ground, was carried out as part of our planning. It showed no graves adjacent to where we believe the fault is.
Given the sensitive nature of the site a great deal of work has been undertaken to ensure the repair work will involve as little excavation as possible and all work will be carried out with the greatest care and respect.
The repair will involve digging a trench about 8 metres long and 2 metres wide around the cable where the fault is thought to be. This will be done by hand. All soil removed from trench will be put to one side and checked by an archaeologist for any heritage material.
It is not expected any human remains will be found. However, Heritage New Zealand has imposed the appropriate protocols to deal with any such discoveries. These will be strictly adhered to.
Once the excavation is complete, the cable will be repaired and reburied.
Carrying out this repair will restore our required level of resilience to this part of Kelburn’s electricity network.
If you have any queries please contact us on 0800 248 148 or [email protected]