Future of ash-scattering up in air

The days of freely scattering human ashes on beaches, parks, council-run cemeteries and other public places could be limited due to a proposed Auckland council bylaw, with councillors asking the public to "re-engage" with decision-making. 

The proposed bylaw would require people to apply for written approval to scatter ashes in public places and pay "applicable fees" to the council as part of a wider bylaw covering cemeteries and crematoria in Auckland. 

Auckland Regulatory and Bylaws Committee chairman, Calum Penrose, said it is time for the discussion as more people are choosing the scattering of ashes over traditional burial methods. 

"You have got to be careful where ashes go; they could end up in water people drink." 

Penrose said he is not sure about the logic of charging people for scattering ashes and is looking forward to hearing from funeral directors at the panel. 

Submissions have closed but Penrose encourages members of the public to come to the panel in two weeks. 

"While we go through this lengthy process of looking at bylaws people start getting switched off as it takes about five years. 

"People go 'oh bugger it, it's just another bylaw', which is quite sad. It's vital we get the public's point of view." 

Auckland Council manages 52 cemeteries with only 30 in operation. The new bylaw and code of practice is planned to replace eight bylaws inherited from former councils and expected to come into force in November 2014. 

"That people are saying the council has already made up its mind on the issue is ridiculous. It's putting the cart before the horse. We haven't made a decision yet and need to deliberate with the public. 

"It's an issue close to people's hearts. Ratepayers pay their rates and contribute to the plots - we have to do it right the first time."