Shallow grave options investigated

Last updated 06:44 20/09/2012

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Planning for a natural burial cemetery in Palmerston North is under way, with the city council seeking feedback on what form it should take.

Natural burial involves the body being buried at a shallow depth where it can decompose more easily.

The body is not embalmed and is contained in an untreated wooden coffin or cotton shroud.

There are no headstones permitted and trees or shrubs are planted on the plot as a memorial.

City councillors decided in June to include $102,000 in the coming year’s budget to set up a natural burial site.

‘‘City councillors listened to those residents who made submissions on natural burial to the annual and long-term plan and agreed to fund the establishment of a natural cemetery within the city,’’ leisure assets officer Brian Way said.

‘‘At present we are considering what land could be made available, and we would like to get feedback from the public on how they see the natural cemetery looking in 50 or 100 years’ time.’’

A natural burial is an alternative end-of-life option for an increasing number of people in the Western world.

It is already used in Britain and America and is offered in New Zealand in several cities, including Wellington and New Plymouth, while others are planning to introduce it.

A decision has to be made about the location and a city bylaw requiring bodies to be buried 1.6-metres deep would have to change to allow shallow burials.

Site options include ground adjoining the Kelvin Grove Cemetery, a property designated for a cemetery at Akers Rd in Linton, an area in Ashhurst, or a piece of Manawatu District land recently absorbed into the city because of a boundary change.

*If you would like more information or to leave a comment on the development of a natural cemetery email: natural.burial@pncc.govt.nz

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- Manawatu Standard

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