Remembering Emily

Flowers for the grave of Emily Keeling; shot to death in Auckland in 1886..

Flowers for the grave of Emily Keeling; shot to death in Auckland in 1886..

Well, it took me a the best part of a week to get back to Symonds Street Cemetary, but Emily’s grave now has flowers. They’re fabric, rather than “real” because I figured they will last longer (and because it’s impossible to buy fresh flowers in that neighbourhood on a Saturday afternoon), but I noticed that when I was there, a few more graves also had flowers laid on them. The cemetary is being tidied up by  a group serving community service sentences, and it looked a lot less overgrown than on my last visit. The group’s supervisor told me a few people had been in to bring flowers while they were there, so it’s nice to know that those long-dead Aucklanders are not totally forgotten.

6 thoughts on “Remembering Emily

  1. I’m go glad you managed to get down again to honour this poor woman. I’m sure somewhere she appreciates it. these two posts about Emily have inspired me to go to the local cemetery and try and be able to do the same thing for another forgotten person.

    • Thank you so much. I’ve been thinking so much about Emily Keeling in the last week, and talking about her to people. Her story is played out in the media every week and it’s so easy to forget the individuals. It would be wonderful if you visited your local cemetary and found someone who moved you the way Emily has me.

  2. I think as soon as I get some time off university I will do just that, i will just have to find the local cemetery first, in six years in Canada Ive never had cause to make a visit yet. I’ve also been telling people poor Emily’s story I’m surprised how much it effected me, I must say everyone I’ve told has said how nice it was of you to drop off those flowers for her! Her headstone looks beautiful though, im glad she at least got that when she died,

    • Thank you; I think that’s a lovely idea. I really like the way Emily’s story is rippling outward. It shows how much violence against women resonates in our society.

      Emily actually has two headstones. The first is the family stone and the second was paid for by subscription from an appeal amongst members of her church and bible class and the public. Apparently 2000 people donated. I must find out what proportion of the city’s population that was. I suspect quite high. In Auckland these days, most people seem to be buried/cremated at one of three municipal facilities, but there are dozens of small, old cemeteries. Symonds Street, where Emily is buried, is the oldest, but there is another of similar age with many graves for shipwreck victims and other nautical deaths. It is in what used to be the main port town for the city’s west coast harbour – which is notoriously dangerous to sail.

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