Council secures land for burials

More land for burying the dead is being secured as Christchurch cemeteries start to run short on space.

Some of the extra land may be made available for eco-burials to cater for the growing demand for environmentally-friendly burials.

Christchurch City Council parks operations manager Ross Campbell said despite more people opting for cremation, it was important the council provided enough land for burials.

"It's so we can give people choice of what they do and how they wish to be interred. Whether it be burial or cremation," he said. "It's very individual and we need to respect that."

Cemeteries within Christchurch will reach their capacity for burials within the next 15 years because of an aging population, according to the council's Cemeteries Master Plan.

Campbell said residential displacement because of the earthquakes was putting more pressure on the cemeteries to the north and south of the city.

The council has bought about 9.1 hectares next to the existing Belfast Cemetery to increase the city's capacity for burials.

The land was bought with the intention of seeking consent for eco-burials.

A development plan for the site is in the process of being produced and will be out for public consultation early next year.

The council is also looking at acquiring up to 10ha in the west of the city, preferably around Avonhead. Campbell said the two purchases would increase the city capacity by up to 40 years.

There was growing interest in eco-burials so the council was looking at how it could provide this, he said.

They were also looking at Le Bons Bay Cemetery as a possible site for eco-burials, but were concerned about its distance from Christchurch.

Funeral Directors Association of New Zealand chief executive Katrina Shanks said eco-burials were not mainstream but more people were considering options for eco-friendly or sustainable funerals, including using eco-friendly caskets.

About 70 per cent of people were cremated.

Return to Sender managing director Leanne Holdsworth said the company had seen a huge increase in the number of people wanting environmentally-friendly coffins since it began making them about eight years ago.

It made "complete sense" the council would consult about creating an eco-cemetery.

The Press