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Contractor to provide fresh flowers, donate $10k to Starship after babies' graves damaged by mowers

Auckland Council mowing contractors Downer New Zealand has promised to provide fresh flowers in the children's area of a South Auckland cemetery where babies' graves have been damaged during maintenance of the surrounding lawns. 

Downer will also be making a $10,000 donation to Starship Children's Hospital. 

Auckland Council says it is investigating "unacceptable" work carried out by its maintenance contractors in the children's area of Manukau Memorial Gardens this week.

A smashed cross on a child's grave at Manukau Memorial Gardens. Source: 1 NEWS

One-hundred-and seventy babies and children under 12 lie there and the council estimates toys, lights and crosses around 50 graves are damaged.

"I am personally troubled by the disrespect this shows and on behalf of Downer I would like to apologise to the families and to Auckland Council," said Steve Killeen, Downer New Zealand CEO. 

An uprooted flower and teddy at Manukau Memorial Gardens. Source: 1 NEWS

"We will provide fresh flowers in the children's area at the Gardens to acknowledge the hurt this has caused and will also be making a $10,000 donation to Starship Children's Hospital," he said in a statement. 

"This was a one-off, careless act and by no means represents the responsibility our 5000 employees accept every day in providing essential front line services to our local communities. We do take full responsibility and will work with all our teams to ensure this does not happen again."

The council's manager of cemeteries, Catherine Moore, said  staff members were on site at the children's area today to speak with visitors.

"Auckland Council is very disappointed that any damage has occurred, and will be endeavouring to contact as many affected families as possible to discuss what has happened, and the steps we will be taking to rectify this. 

Toys from a plot piled onto a concrete strip between graves at Manukau Memorial Gardens. Source: 1 NEWS

"We appreciate that this will be distressing for families, and we will ensure this will be managed with sensitivity and care, Ms Moore said.

Adornments have been placed on the concrete berms and the area has been tidied, while broken adornments have been carefully collected and stored, the council said. 

Auckland Council says it is investigating "unacceptable" work carried out by its maintenance contractors in the children's area of Manukau Memorial Gardens. Source: 1 NEWS


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