Cemeteries and Crematoria Bylaw review

Aramoho cemetery

The council is comprehensively reviewing its Cemeteries and Crematoria Bylaw – which is due for its five year review – and associated policies. These set out the council’s rules for and approach to cemeteries, burials, cremations and monuments within the district.

Right now we’re asking the community to complete a survey to help us understand the public's views on some of the key issues. You have until Friday, 4 February 2022 to give us this initial feedback.

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How we’re working

An advisory panel has been set up to assist with the review due to the significant community interest in these matters. The panel consists of representatives from key community groups, including Iwi, the Hindu, Christian and Muslim communities, the New Zealand Remembrance Army, natural burial advocates and funeral directors as well as a number of elected members.

Panel members will play an important role in the review process, raising issues that are important to their respective communities, working together to help create potential solutions to identified issues, and making recommendations to the council on preferred options for public consultation.

The council needs to revise this bylaw before it expires in August 2023. The Ministry of Health is conducting a comprehensive review of the Burials and Cremations Act 1964, which the current bylaw was created under, and the ministry expects the general policy approach to be publicly available next year. The review timeframe for the council's bylaw and associated policies will let us take the likely legislative changes into consideration. We expect our review to continue through 2022 and conclude in early 2023 when the council adopts the updated bylaw and policies.

The current bylaw

The current Cemeteries and Crematoria Bylaw was introduced in 2016 and sets out regulations for the operation of public, council-owned and administered cemeteries and crematoria in the district. Its main purposes are to ensure that human remains are interred in an appropriate manner and that land and physical structures in cemeteries are protected.

The health and safety of the public, visitors and workers is an underlying concern, as is ensuring that processes and practices that take place in the cemeteries are safe for all.

Read the current bylaw(PDF, 2MB)

Updating related council policies

As we review the bylaw, we will also review and update related council policies, including the Cemetery Monument Policy, Plaques and Memorials Policy, Natural Burial Policy and Cultural Guidelines for the Burial of Kōiwi in Aramoho Cemetery to ensure that they are all aligned and still fit for purpose. 

The Cemetery Monument Policy 2016(PDF, 1MB) sets clear guidelines for monuments in public cemeteries for both the public and cemetery staff. It details the process for getting a monument installed as well as the design requirements.

The Plaques and Memorials Policy 2010(PDF, 28KB) applies to memorials in public spaces other than cemeteries. It provides guidance on the process to be taken when considering new proposals. A key part of this is assessing whether the event or person to be remembered will remain significant to the broader community and history of Whanganui after a period of time.

The Natural Burials Policy 2013(PDF, 140KB) provides the community with an alternative, more environmentally friendly option for burials than traditional ones. Impact on the natural environment is minimised by burying the body in a way that facilitates relatively fast decomposition as well as by restricting memorials on the plots so they look as natural as possible.

The Cultural Management Guidelines for the Burial of Kōiwi at Aramoho Cemetery 2016(PDF, 856KB) was prepared in collaboration with Whanganui Iwi. It guides the process for burying human remains (generally bones) discovered in the district in a respectful manner with Iwi involved in managing the process from the outset.