Butterflies, seemingly infinite in their colour and variety, are soon to alight on a mosaic path being prepared in the children’s sanctuary of Purewa Cemetery.
These are very special butterflies, designed and crafted in beautiful, colourful tiles by celebrated Warkworth mosaic artist Joy Bell. Unlike their counterparts in nature, their presence will be no fleeting thing; rather they will be lasting memorials for stillborn and newborn babies taken too soon from parents and families.
The outline tiling work for the new mosaic is due to be completed by late January-early February, laying a framework for individual butterfly memorials to be placed. In time the 93 butterfly mosaics will complete the walkway, creating a special place dedicated for newborns and stillborn children.
Although the concept is not entirely new, it is the first of its kind to be constructed in a cemetery in New Zealand. Purewa Cemetery Trust Board Trustee Murray Ward and Purewa general manager Clifton Thomson discovered a similar path on a reserve bordering the historic Fairfield cemetery (now closed) while at a conference in Nelson.
‘‘Murray was impressed by the mosaics and the appropriateness of the butterfly images for a child’s memorial,’’ Mr Thomson says. You could say the project took wing from there; Joy Bell developed some truly beautiful concept drawings, and has been working incredibly hard on the mosaic tiling.
‘‘Judging from the favourable comments we have received from the public and funeral directors, the mosaic butterfly theme will be a much loved asset for Purewa.’’
Purewa assistant manager Alastair Crombie says: ‘‘The heartbreak of losing a child is something that does not go away, despite being rarely talked about. This walkway will provide parents with a material and tangible memorial to remember their little ones lost.’’
Joy has created a catalogue of beautiful butterflies in a variety of types and colours. The butterflies are ordered through Purewa’s administration, after which the purchaser liaises directly with Joy to personalise their design preference.
Being a mosaic path, the butterflies are a memorial only. Other children’s memorial options include the purchase of a plaque on Purewa’s Mother and Child statue in the majestic grounds of Purewa Cemetery.