Cemetery staff are concerned after wooden crosses from 13 children's graves have been mysteriously tampered with at Auckland's Waikumete Cemetery.
Fragments of the crosses and a small number of old wooden memorial marker crosses were discovered on Wednesday last week and appeared to have been thrown outside the burial area.
"I looks to us like the crosses, which are quite old and not in the best condition, have been moved -- perhaps in an effort to 'tidy' them away," says Waikumete Cemetery manager Roscoe Webb. "We also believe that these crosses were previously lying on plots or quite deteriorated by the passing of time."
The crosses all come from the west Auckland cemetery's Children's Sanctuary, with some dating back as far as 30 years. A report on the incident was lodged with police on Wednesday afternoon.
Mr Webb says the cemetery will work to replace crosses that have identifiable names or plaques attached by looking at cemetery records.
"There are, however, a small number of crosses with no name," says Mr Webb. "We'll store these and work with any families that come forward to identify and return their crosses."
Waikumete staff will attempt to get in touch with families whose contact details are on record, to offer new crosses to those that want them.
"We have carried out an initial search of our database and have family details for the eight crosses that had name plaques, so we will attempt to make contact over the next day or so," says Mr Webb.
"If people have a loved one buried in the Children's Sanctuary whose grave is only marked with an aged cross and they suspect may be one of the crosses affected, they can phone the cemetery office to speak to one of our staff."
Aside from four crosses with no remaining names or dates, Mr Webb says the crosses were placed between 1985 and 2012.