Residents oppose natural burial plan

00:00, Jun 17 2014

Ashhurst residents "amazed" at the prospect of decaying human bodies polluting their water supplies have asked the Palmerston North City Council to abandon plans for a natural burial cemetery at McCraes Bush.

Residents Craig O'Leary and Rob Kirk told the community development committee yesterday that the proposed site near the Pohangina River upstream of the township would be unlikely to meet World Health Organisation guidelines.

Part of the site was floodable, it was too close to water sources, and the soil quality was not the best for allowing natural decomposition, they said.

Their concerns were also aired at a Horizons Regional Council strategy and policy meeting last week, when councillor Gordon McKellar raised the prospect of human remains being washed away in a flood.

Chief executive Michael McCartney said Horizons would be advising the city council on the risks of allowing shallow burials in a floodable area.

Horizons operations group manager Allan Cook said before the natural burial cemetery could go ahead there would be a consents process, and Horizons would be an affected party and would make its views known.


City council property manager John Brenkley said the council was investigating potential sites for natural burials because people had asked it to provide for the option.

Other council-owned areas had been rejected for a variety of reasons, leaving McCraes Bush and the existing Kelvin Grove Cemetery as the only options.

The next step would be to employ specialists to advise on the suitability of the McCraes Bush site.

That study could cost $5000 to $10,000.

Manawatu Standard