Planning for a Natural Burial Site in Karamea - Update

Submitted by hamishmacbeth on Tue, 25/09/2018 - 9:14pm

PLANNING FOR A

NATURAL BURIAL SITE FOR KARAMEA

A group of Karamea residents is hoping to establish a place in Karamea where we can bury our loved ones in a natural setting.

We have put some notices in the Chronicle and on the community website, but in order to be sure that we have reached all members of our community, we have decided to do this leaflet drop.

We are nearing the end of our planning process and didn't want to miss you out. Please get in touch with us if you have any thing you would like us to think about.

What is a Natural Burial Site?

In general terms, a natural burial is one in which:

The body is not embalmed and allows for speedy decomposition.

The plot is usually less than one metre deep.

The casket is made of easily degradable materials (real wood, linen, willow, cotton etc).

The site may be planted out in trees and shrubs.

Why?

There are now many councils in New Zealand offering such sites, which began in Wellington in 2008. Now 10% of Wellington's burials are in a natural burial site. Westport now has a section of the Orowaiti Cemetery set aside for natural burials. Perhaps a service could be offered in Karamea for those interested?

What About the Existing Cemetery?

The Karamea Cemetery Trust manages the Karamea Cemetery for the Buller District Council. It is a registered cemetery reserve, and over the years has amalgamated others in the area including Little Wanganui and the South Terrace.

Our cemetery is a quiet country cemetery with about four burials per year. Our community is proud of its neat appearance, with concrete berms, headstones and well maintained lawn. It is financially sustainable and has capacity for burials at the current rate for another 25 years or so. It needs to acquire adjacent land, ideally, in the near future, to cater for demand in time. But that is another issue.

Our proposal is to have another type of cemetery reserve which complements what is offered currently. If a Natural Burial site is created, it will presumably extend the capacity of the existing cemetery.

What would the Natural Burial Site look like?

We are still working out what we would like it to be, but probably something like this: An open park-like area with trees scattered throughout. Paths would wander through the site. There might be a small car park with a picnic table and an interpretation area. Grazing may be appropriate on the open site until the site is fully planted. Maintenance would be park-like rather than grass-mown. We are considering native trees and exotic trees. We might end up with something like a botanic garden.

Where will the Natural Burial Site Be?

The site has not yet been decided but could be adjacent to the existing cemetery, or anywhere else in the Karamea area.

We have cast the net widely for site investigation. We have considered council managed land and looked at private land that would suit this need. The area need not be large; maybe even as small as half a hectare. It would need good vehicle access, parking availability, preferably a pleasant aspect with a view, and a 'natural' feel to the amenity of the area. We are looking for an open or semi open space. We don't want to cut down trees in order to plant new ones.

If you know any sites that might be suitable, please contact one of the working group. We have been out and about talking to landowners already, and have a few more stops to make. We have been received courteously and had good discussions so far. Thank you. It has helped us firm up our ideas about the most likely places, and we can assure you there are some sites that look very promising.

Now might be your last chance to help us find the best site.

Can I Be Involved?

You can help us identify a good site.

You can also contact one of us if you are interested in the idea and want to be kept informed of progress. We have about twenty names so far.

What Next?

Once we have accumulated more information we will take it back to the Cemetery Trust, and they will have to decide if they wish to adopt the proposal. Should they choose to, and take it to the council, the council will then have their own process to run through before this could become a reality.

The community will be kept informed of any progress made along these lines. Thank you for your interest to date.

Who to Contact

The Karamea Natural Burial Site Working Group consists of:

Tina and Bill Wylie 7826 048

Craig Stenhouse 7826 844

Hamish Macbeth 7826 888

Karamea, 21 Sept 2018

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