Peter Fatialofa's headstone among many damaged at Auckland cemetery

Peter Fatialofa's headstone among many damaged at Auckland cemetery

Samoan rugby legend Peter Fatialofa's headstone has been damaged three times since he was laid to rest in 2013.

His is one of a number of headstones at Auckland's Manukau Memorial Gardens that have been hit by vehicles, and most of the damage is unintentional.

The cemetery is a tranquil resting place, but irresponsible drivers have been disrupting the peace.

But Auckland Council says it's not only hoons causing problems.

"Most days our staff are coming out and asking people to move their car and not drive up on the grass, so it is becoming a bit of an issue," says Auckland Council spokeswoman Catherine Moore.

Grieving families are increasingly driving their cars over plots to reach grave sites. Some have damaged headstones, including that of rugby legend Fatialofa. His wife, Anne, says Fatialofa's gravestone has been damaged at least three times.

Fatialofa's headstone was shunted off its foundations by a reversing car in May. His devastated family was forced to pay hundreds to hire a crane to move it back into place.

"Obviously it was an accident, but still to drive along there, behind there, that's a no-go, and I actually put a couple of bricks so they actually wouldn't drive up on there," says Ms Fatialofa. "But I came back and the bricks were gone."

CCTV cameras and security are on site, but local councillor Alf Filipaina wants a community-led response.

"It's a matter of letting our families and communities that go there to visit loved ones know just to be careful and have respect for that people and families that are there."

Auckland Council says it plans to erect signage and more bollards, but says if that doesn't work it could be forced to fence off the open area or, worse-case scenario, consider introducing fines.

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