In 1895, the Cemetery opened as the Kyeburn Cemetery. In 1900, the name was changed to SWINBURN Cemetery to avoid confusion with the Kyeburn Diggings Cemetery established in Upper Kyeburn. Despite the name change, the Swinburn Cemetery is often referred to as the Kyeburn-Kokonga Cemetery.
The name "Swinburn" is a contraction of Swine Burn, a name resulting from the work of the original Otago surveyor, John Turnbull Thomson.
In 1910, trees were planted and gates erected at the cemetery. In April 1920, a war memorial was erected on the grounds of the cemetery. In 1962, a concrete path was laid from the entrance gates to the memorial.
Swinburn Cemetery is on Cemetery Road (formerly Swinburn Road) off SH87, a couple of kilometers from the intersection SH87 and SH85 at Kyeburn.