Waikumete Cemetery is located in Auckland and it is the largest cemetery in New Zealand, and the second largest in the southern hemisphere. It covers almost 300 acres, and has over 70,000 burials. Is it little wonder that it has a fearsome reputation as being very haunted.
It was established in 1886, and the surrounding area grew around the hilly countryside it sits on. A crematorium sits in the southwest corner of the cemetery, and the Chapel of Faith in the Oaks established in the same year served as a mortuary chapel. It was in use until 1952 when a larger chapel was built.
Two extensive areas of the cemetery were given over for burial of service personnel of the World Wars and post-war veterans.
The cemetery has also become a favored spot where people go to commit suicide. Was it that draws them there? Could it be the spiritual influence from those that are buried there that died by their own hand?
On February 14th, 1904 a little after sunrise, Mr. William Walker was passing through Albert Park when he noticed a man lying under a tree. When he investigated he found the man lying downward with a leather belt tied around his neck, and the ends of a broken rope attached to it. Nearby was box which he had used to hang himself. When the police arrived, the body was hardly cold.
The man's name was Mate Boksich, an Austrian of about 35 years. he was buried in the Catholic section of Waikumete Cemetery
Samuel Slutzkin was 19 years old in 1905 when he took his own life by taking a poison known as phosphorus paste. He is buried in the Hebrew section of Waikumete Cemetery.
Alfred Edwin Day, a 17-year-old left the home he shared with his family the evening of October 11, 1913. He had been very quiet, and his parents were hoping that after meeting his friends in Auckland he would return in better spirits.
His friend Benjamin Smith knew the truth about why his friend was so down. He had been jilted by a girlfriend and had threatened to take his life. He was later found at the beach barely alive, and later died at Auckland Hospital after taking a dose of poison that left his lips burned and blistered. He was buried at Waikumete Cemetery.
In September of 1931, a Chinese fruiterer named Wing Tim Poy was found hanging in the cellar of a house located in 65 Gray's Avenue. He was only 40 years old and married, and had made arrangements to visit his family and wife in China. The health authorities did not allow him to leave as he was found to be suffering from leprosy. He left a suicide note and was buried in the Public Burial Area A of Waikumete Cemetery.
In modern time, approximately a dozen suicides have taken place, some by hanging in the low-lying branches along the road, earning it the name Suicide Lane.
At one time murderers convicted to hang would be sent directly to Waikumete Cemetery, where they were executed and summarily buried in unmarked graves. Ghost gum trees were planted to indicate the area where they were interred which is known as Murderers' Grove which is in the old section of the cemetery. This was also where paupers were buried as well.
When the Spanish Influenza raged worldwide, New Zealand was not spared. Over 8,500 New Zealanders died, 1128 were from Auckland. Many doctors, nurses and volunteers also became sick and died. The bodies were so numerous that at one point the hospital refused to accept them, and they were being shipped by train directly to a mortuary set up in the cemetery. These building would be marked with a white cross, and the bodies were buried in hastily opened trenches.
Glen Eden Railway Station was the last stop before they would be taken over to the mortuary in the cemetery. The bodies would be stacked on the platform, and it not surprising that the station is also haunted.
There is one ghost in particular which has been haunting the platform for the last 80 years. His name was Alex MacFarlane, and he had survived WWI and the spanish flu.
He was a railway porter and had immigrated from Scotland in 1913. The accident that ended his life took place on January 11th, 1924.
The train was coming into the station, having already slowed down. Witnesses said that MacFarlane had been walking towards the engine when he slipped, overbalanced and fell face down. The driver hit the brakes but it was too late and the wheels rolled over MacFarlane's legs just above his knees. He was transported by carriage and ambulance to the hospital where he died two hours later.
The 35-year-old was buried at Waikumete Cemetery two days later. His widow Jean joined him there in 1935.
Several sightings of a bearded man has been seen on the platform, even though MacFarlane was clean shaven at the time of his death.
A cafe is located now at what used to be the railway station, and an employee described an odd looking man coming in with a top hat asking about the times the trains were running. She turned away for a moment, and he had disappeared.
Another haunted location is the old chapel where 800 urns full of ashes were discovered when services were being moved to the new, larger chapel that had been built. Several people including a sexton have seen a cloaked woman believed to be a nun inside and outside the chapel.
Banging of doors, and also from underground have been heard in different part of the cemetery. The sound of bagpipes have been heard in the military section.
Arthur Smith who used to work in the crematorium, said he had once seen a woman standing in the middle of the road. She had bare feet, and was wearing a long, white gown. Her hair was unkempt and she stared fixedly at him. He was getting ready to leave, and he recounts that he knew he had to get out of the area quickly and not meet her gaze. When he came to a gate that he had to open in order to exit, he looked from the corner of his eye, but she had disappeared. He never saw her again.
Stranger Than Fiction Stories by Marlene Pardo Pellicer