Action as demand grows for burial space

GRANT BRYANT IN QUEENSTOWN
Last updated 05:00 13/02/2013

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Moves are on to make a new cemetery operational because burial sites in Queenstown could only have a year's worth of space available "depending on demand".

The Queenstown Lakes District Council's community services committee yesterday approved the Lower Shotover Cemetery master plan, clearing $60,499 to be spent on preparing the first block of a three block, 3.1 ha graveyard for use as a burial ground.

The council also anticipates spending $107,000 next year on landscaping, roading and burial and ash beams, which will allow burials to take place.

A report by the council's park manager Gordon Bailey said both the Queenstown and Frankton cemeteries "had limited space for new interments, possibly as short as one year and up to five years depending on demand."

Once the first block of the new cemetery is prepared it will have room for 492 burial plots and 509 ash interments. However, it is anticipated Queenstown's booming growth rate, and the ageing baby boomer generation will add a spike to burial rates over time.

Councillor Lex Perkins queried whether the new cemetery would last the Wakatipu community for the next 100 years.

Mr Bailey said it would, and that it would allow for changing trends in burials. "Worldwide, cremations are becoming much more popular," he said.

All cremations in the area currently took place in Alexandra, but it was not unforseeable that a crematorium could be opened in Queenstown in the future to make that option easier and more affordable for Wakatipu people, Mr Bailey said.

While current burial practices were relatively plain affairs, the new cemetery had enough flexibility to cater to religious practices that seemed to be "drifting south as the ethnic makeup of the population changed," Mr Bailey said. These included the addition of crypts and bigger burial plots with lots of decoration.

Committee chairwoman Cath Gilmour commended council staff in the late 1980s for their foresight in buying the cemetery land, forming a landscape plan for it and planting trees on it, which now have matured and form the underlying layout of the new cemetery.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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