Eco-burial site fails to gain support

JARED NICOLL
Last updated 11:52 25/02/2014

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Plans for Lower Hutt's first eco-friendly graveyard have stalled because of a lack of public interest.

Three years ago Hutt City Council created concept designs for an eco-burial site at Taita Cemetery but it never went much further.

Divisional manager of parks and gardens Bruce Hodgins said more public interest was needed to warrant the council investigating a business case.

"We have not had many inquiries at all about an eco-burial site," Mr Hodgins said.

"We need to know how it would pay for itself."

Once a viable business case was put forward, a proposal would need to be submitted to the council's draft annual plan.

The council will hear public submissions on its draft plan in June and final decisions would be made shortly after.

Eastern ward councillor Lisa Bridson said she would support future plans for an eco-burial site at Taita Cemetery.

"It's a wonderful idea," Ms Bridson said. "Eco-burials are a growing trend and here we have a piece of land that's not being well- utilised."

There were more than 300 natural burial sites in the United Kingdom and more than a dozen in the United States but the idea had taken longer to catch on in New Zealand because people are not allowed to be buried on private land.

The Law Commission began seeking public feedback in October on a raft of reform proposals to update the Burial and Cremation Act 1964.

Issues up for debate include whether the cemetery sector should be opened up to a wider range of providers, such as people wanting to provide eco-burial sites, and whether New Zealanders should be allowed to be buried on private land, such as a family farm.

"Personally, I would prefer to go and pay respects to my family in a pleasant environment," Cr Bridson said.

"I'm keen to look at the proposals again but anything like this needs more support in council."

Wellington established a natural burial site at Makara in 2008.

Hutt council reserves assets manager Craig Cottrill said the council considered paying for the work out of its operational funding budget, but decided it would need more money to make a site "better than Makara".

"Now, it's just dropped off the political and public radar," Mr Cottrill said.

"Demand could be satisfied by the Wellington option, but people like to have their loved-ones buried close by."

aita Ceremony dated back to 1892 and was still used, but 100 years later it was almost full so Hutt City Council bought land near Akatarawa Cemetery in Upper Hutt and decided to run a joint facility with Upper Hutt City Council in 2008.

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