Herbert-Otepopo Deaths.

By Tim and Caidee.


  1. We visited the Herbert Cemetery and noticed that there seemed to be more people who had died in some years than others.
  2. We wondered if there were some reasons for this or if it was just random.
  3. We went up to the cemetery again and surveyed the first 9 rows of the cemetery its earliest days. We made a record of all the years in which people had died up till 1930 then we typed them up onto a spreadsheet. We found out that in some particular years, there were quite a few more deaths than the average amount.
  4. Then we looked up those particular dates that had more deaths than the average to see if there were any diseases or anything else to cause so many deaths. We found some information on the Internet, and also from Kathleen Stringer at the Oamaru Museum.

Click here to see our survey on Herbert Cemetery dates (PDF, 12KB)

We have found out some interesting information.

Below are some things we have found out about.

Some possible explanations:

In 1876 there was an outbreak of cholera and there was no medicine to fix illness in those days.

There was a diphtheria epidemic (a serious disease in the throat) in 1875 to 1876.

In 1895 it was a very cold winter which could have caused people to get very sick and since there was no medicine to fix sickness in those days, people could have died.

In 1906 there was an epidemic called the potato blight (a fungal disease of potatoes). It was in Ireland then came to New Zealand 60 years later.

We were not able to find out whether the people that died, died of the disease around that year, but it seems possible. We could not find any reason why there might have been more deaths for 1881, 1885, or 1889.

Other information we found:

The first 36 people buried in the Herbert cemetery have no records.

There was a cemetery before the one there is now. There was a tree up there to mark where it was, but a big storm happened and blew down the tree. Now it has no mark to show where it was. The graves at that cemetery were very old.