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Graveyards running out of space

SARAH HARVEY
Last updated 05:00 13/11/2012
Waikumete Cemetery
MATTHEW GRAY / Fairfax NZ
CUTTING IT TIGHT: Space is running out at Waikumete Cemetery.

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Two of Auckland's largest cemeteries are set to reach capacity by 2018 with the city struggling to meet burial demands as the population grows.

The problems are also being compounded by the growing need for culturally diverse and respectful burial areas.

The Auckland Cemeteries Capacity and Demand Report, which is on the agenda for today's Parks, Recreation and Heritage Forum, outlines the problem.

Auckland Council owns and operates 53 cemeteries, of which 32 still have burial space available. There are also trust-owned cemeteries in Auckland.

About 2600 burials occur in the city every year with the three largest cemeteries - Waikumete Cemetery, North Shore Memorial Park and Manukau Memorial Gardens - accounting for more than 80 per cent of them as well as providing over 3000 cremations a year, the report says.

Between them 6500 plots remain but based on current death rates, population forecasts and the ratio of burials to cremations, they will be at capacity within eight years.
 
In Howick, the area with the largest residential population in Auckland, the cemetery is full.

The Manukau Memorial Gardens is the most critical with just 567 plots remaining, although expansion is currently underway to add another 16000 plots and therefore another 30 years of capacity.

There are plans to extend the Waikumete Cemetery, and the North Shore Memorial Park. Investigations are also under way for two new regional cemeteries located in the southeast and northwest of Auckland.

Tending to cultural diversity is also an issue.

"There are barriers to cremation for some cultures and parts of the community. This can influence the ongoing requirement for additional land to ensure adequate provision is made for burials," the report said.

The forum will be told that an operational review of the council cemeteries has been undertaken and will continue for the next 12 months before funding requests for developing or acquiring further cemeteries will be made to council.

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