Auckland Cemeteries has been recognised nationally for its innovative approach to natural burials.
The new natural burial area at Waikumete Cemetery has received the Innovation Award at the 2018 New Zealand Cemeteries and Crematoria Collective Conference and Awards in Christchurch.
The award recognises the forward-thinking success of the facility and its contribution to the sector within the cemeteries and crematoria industry in New Zealand.
Councillor Penny Hulse, Chair of the Environment and Community Committee, says Auckland Council is proud that the work of Auckland Cemeteries has been recognised by the industry.
“Our cemeteries team has created a unique and beautiful way of celebrating the life of a loved one. It offers an option that lets families to grieve in a way that may be more meaningful to them, while also supporting our natural environment,” Councillor Hulse says.
“What results is a living memorial to families’ loved ones that can be appreciated by generations to come."
Natural approach to burials
Auckland Cemeteries manager Catherine Moore says the natural burial area offers customers an alternative approach to burials that is environmentally friendly and contributes to the restoration and protection of native forest.
“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback from the community, with many families finding closure through a burial that is closely aligned with nature.
“The natural burial area is located within an area of regenerating native forest, and burials are integrated with the forest in conjunction with an on-going programme of planting, weed control and protection.
“We’ve also installed a sustainably-designed committal shelter and meandering path through the burial area.
“The long-term vision for this area is to create a lasting legacy of flourishing native forest through care, restoration and preservation,” Ms Moore says.
Family days well received
Waikumete Cemetery will be holding family planting ceremonies at the natural burial area every year in autumn, using plants provided by the cemetery.
“We encourage families to join us to commemorate their loved ones while participating in the long-term enhancement and preservation of this very special area,” Ms Moore says.
“The first of these ceremonies, held last year, was well attended and received.”
Ms Moore says the development of the natural burial area has seen over 5000 native trees planted so far.
What’s a natural burial?
A natural burial is the interment of a body in the soil in a way that doesn’t slow decomposition but allows the body to recycle naturally. The intention of this type of burial is to have as little environmental impact as possible when someone is buried.