Feedback wanted on Cemeteries and Crematoria Bylaw

Published on February 27, 2023

Aramoho Cemetery headstones and crematorium

Whanganui District Council is inviting the community to give their feedback on proposed changes to the Cemeteries and Crematoria Bylaw.  The Bylaw is up for its statutory review, providing an opportunity to review the way cemeteries and memorials are managed across the district.

This draft proposal has been brought together with an advisory group, and has also been informed by the results of a community survey.

Council policy manager Elise Broadbent says, “Cemeteries and crematoria are really important spaces for mourning, remembering and celebrating our loved ones. Management of these spaces need to be sensitive and respectful of the subject matter, and our review has kept this in mind at all stages.

“We took a broader approach with this process, reviewing our cemetery management from the ground up rather than just considering the bylaw,” she says. “We opened a public survey and received over 500 responses from the community, but we also worked directly with community groups who have a special interest in this area, including Tangata Whenua, the Hindu and Christian communities, the New Zealand Remembrance Army, natural burial advocates, and funeral directors.”

These groups formed an advisory panel who assisted with the review, raising issues that were important to their respective communities, and working together to offer solutions to identified issues. The panel decided on five areas to prioritise, which form the basis of the proposal. These are: environmental sustainability, inclusivity and accessibility, safety, general comfort and usability, and respecting and honouring the past.

The review touched on a number of key issues including: the scattering of ashes into water, grave maintenance and alcohol in cemeteries. In a unique proposal, it has been suggested that a purpose-built water feature be installed at the cemetery. This would provide a space for the scattering of ashes into water, as well as adding to the atmosphere of the cemetery.

As part of the review, related documents will also be updated, including the Cemetery Monument Policy, Plaques and Memorials Policy, Natural Burial Policy and Cultural Guidelines for the Burial of Kōiwi in Aramoho Cemetery. Elise Broadbent says, “These updates are to make the rules clearer and easier to find, but do not involve substantive changes.”

The proposal is now available on the council’s website to read, and the community can give their feedback through a submission, either digitally on the council website or in a physical copy, which can be picked up from council customer services on 101 Guyton Street and the Davis and Gonville Libraries.

The deadline for these public submissions is Sunday April 16, 2023, and can be accessed on this page

Anyone who wants to can present their submission in person can do so at the public hearing, which is expected to be in late April or early May this year.


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