Mum’s call for cemetery signs answered

Gena Konia lost her daughter Scarlett (pictured), aged seven, in March 2016, and a member of the family visits her grave every day.

A resident who asked for dedicated dog behaviour signs at Wanaka Cemetery has finally got her wish.

Gena Konia lost her daughter Scarlett (pictured), aged seven, in March 2016, and a member of the family visits her grave every day. Ever since then, they have become increasingly upset at the regular sight of dogs wandering over graves, and in some cases using them as a toilet.

“To me, it seems to be plain common-sense not to have dogs walking, urinating and defecating on graves, but morally and culturally I know people are different. I respect these differences, but I do ask that people spare a thought for those resting there, as they too deserve the same level of respect,” Gena said.

After the situation escalated at the end of last year, Gena decided to contact Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) to express her concerns and ask for dedicated signs reminding dog-owners of the cemetery’s rules.

She didn’t receive a response for the first month, but council spokesperson Sam White has now confirmed to the Wanaka Sun that all dogs must be controlled and said new signs would soon be installed.

“We’re grateful to the local resident who reported this unpleasant situation at Wanaka Cemetery. Council’s Dog Control bylaw states that dog owners must keep their dog under control on a leash in all cemeteries and other specific public places like playgrounds. Furthermore, owners of a dog in a public place must carry a bag or other receptacle suitable for the removal of dog poo and must remove it immediately. Every person who commits an offence under this bylaw is liable to a penalty of up to $300.
“There are decals on the main cemetery sign indicating dogs must be kept on a leash, but as a result of this feedback Council will be installing new dedicated signage to address this issue.”
For Gena and her family, the signs are welcome news, but they still live with the fear that it won’t solve the problem.

“I do feel really pleased and thankful that they are willing to act and place something at the cemetery. However, call me cynical, but I guess I am realistic that this probably won’t stop many people using the area as a recreational ground for their dogs.

“Sadly I recognise that unless people have loved ones buried there, and I acknowledge I am extra vigilant because Scarlett is at a young age where as parents we are fiercely protective of her, they may not realise the offensive magnitude their actions can have.

“I am just waiting for the day I go down there and there’s dog faeces on my daughter’s grave.”

Members of the public can report incidents regarding dogs 24/7 by phoning 03 443 0024 or emailing

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