Several families sifting through broken and shattered mementos removed from graves in Waikumete Cemetery in Auckland say they may never recover what has been lost.
About a quarter of the plots in the Stillborn Sanctuary section of the cemetery in Kelston were ploughed by contractors early last month.
A team of archaeologists and sextons has been hired by Auckland Council to retrieve the mementos from a mulch pit, and they are being washed and sorted through by families.
Many of the families have expressed their anger at the destruction and say it's a heartwrenching process.
The council's acting manager of parks and recreation, Mace Ward, said he understands their frustrations.
He said more than 200 items have been recovered so far.
Mr Ward praised the families who worked in shifts during the weekend to help prepare the items for identification, and the process of return them to the families will begin on Monday.