Cemeteries Management Plan Review

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Consultation has concluded

Karori Cemetery

The future of Wellington’s cemeteries

Between July 2020 and June 2021, we reviewed our strategic and management plan for Tawa, Karori and Mākara cemeteries. The review aimed to ensure we can meet the short and long-term cemetery needs of our growing city.

Under the Burials and Cremations Act, Wellington City Council has statutory responsibilities and functions to provide for burials and manage cemeteries.

There were a number of issues which we needed to think about to prepare for the future.

Karori Cemetery is almost at full capacity, and Mākara Cemetery is predicted to reach capacity for ash and burial interments between 2038 and 2047.

Demand for cemetery services and the way we use our cemeteries as open spaces is changing as our community diversifies. We needed to understand what services and facilities people would like to see at our cemeteries.

Heritage protection at Karori and Tawa Cemeteries is another issue which we considered in the review. Both cemeteries date back to colonial times and have significant historic value.

Please see our Frequently Asked Questions for more information about Wellington City Council's cemeteries and about the review.


What happened with this project

In July 2020, we undertook an informal engagement with key stakeholders and the wider community on how our cemeteries are used and ideas for the future.

The findings were used to inform the development of the draft plan, which was open for formal consultation from Friday 6 November to Friday 11 December 2020. Oral submissions on the draft plan were heard in February 2021.

The plan was approved by the Social, Cultural and Economic Committee on 22 June 2021, and was released to the public in mid-July 2021.

You can read the final plan here.

The future of Wellington’s cemeteries

Between July 2020 and June 2021, we reviewed our strategic and management plan for Tawa, Karori and Mākara cemeteries. The review aimed to ensure we can meet the short and long-term cemetery needs of our growing city.

Under the Burials and Cremations Act, Wellington City Council has statutory responsibilities and functions to provide for burials and manage cemeteries.

There were a number of issues which we needed to think about to prepare for the future.

Karori Cemetery is almost at full capacity, and Mākara Cemetery is predicted to reach capacity for ash and burial interments between 2038 and 2047.

Demand for cemetery services and the way we use our cemeteries as open spaces is changing as our community diversifies. We needed to understand what services and facilities people would like to see at our cemeteries.

Heritage protection at Karori and Tawa Cemeteries is another issue which we considered in the review. Both cemeteries date back to colonial times and have significant historic value.

Please see our Frequently Asked Questions for more information about Wellington City Council's cemeteries and about the review.


What happened with this project

In July 2020, we undertook an informal engagement with key stakeholders and the wider community on how our cemeteries are used and ideas for the future.

The findings were used to inform the development of the draft plan, which was open for formal consultation from Friday 6 November to Friday 11 December 2020. Oral submissions on the draft plan were heard in February 2021.

The plan was approved by the Social, Cultural and Economic Committee on 22 June 2021, and was released to the public in mid-July 2021.

You can read the final plan here.

Consultation has concluded
  • The Cemeteries Management Plan has been approved

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    We're pleased to confirm that the Cemeteries Management Plan was approved by the Social, Cultural and Economic Committee on 22 June, and will be released to the public in mid-July.

    See our media release and Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

  • The Cemeteries Management Plan will go before the Social, Cultural and Economic Committee for approval on 22 June 2021

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    Thank you to everyone who made a submission and provided us with information during this consultation.

    The Cemeteries Management Plan has now been finalised, and will go before the Social, Cultural and Economic Committee for approval on 22 June 2021.

    The meeting will be open to the public, and you are welcome to come along and listen to the proceedings. Alternatively, you can watch the livestream on our YouTube page. Find out more about Council meetings here.

    Thank you for your continued interest in this project - stay tuned for the outcome of the Committee's decision.

  • Recreation in our cemeteries

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    We are seeing a growing number of visitors to our cemeteries for recreation, as people increasingly value them as places of tranquillity, with historic interest. We need to make sure that recreational use is compatible with the needs of people visiting the graves of loved ones.

    In the Draft Cemeteries Management Plan, we have clarified that ‘passive recreation’ is allowed provided a respectful and peaceful atmosphere for the bereaved is maintained.

    What we’re proposing

    Passive recreation includes quiet activities such as contemplation, reading, family history research and nature study, and exercise such as walking or running (but not organised sports). Informal gatherings (such as whānau or religious groups visiting graves together) are also permitted, but events (such as a choral performance) would need to be appropriate and pre-approved.

    Our cemeteries will be closed to cycling and mountain biking except on the formed roads where vehicles are permitted and on any tracks to adjacent public reserves that are clearly signposted for bike use. A speed limit of 10 km/hour will apply to all motorised vehicles and bikes using the formed roadways.

    Horse riding will continue to be permitted on the formed roadway at Mākara Cemetery, provided horses are at a walking pace and riders remove all horse manure.

    Dogs will continue to be permitted in our cemeteries, provided owners keep dogs on a leash and clean up after them.

    The Draft Cemeteries Management Plan is open for feedback until Friday 11 December. You can have your say on recreation in Wellington City Council’s cemeteries, and other issues, by filling out the online survey.

  • Time to talk cemeteries

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    As part of our consultation on the Draft Cemeteries Management Plan, we're hosting some drop-in sessions this Saturday, 28 November. Come and talk to us at Karori Cemetery from 9-11am, or at Mākara Cemetery from 2-4pm, and we'll be happy to answer any questions you have.

    In case of bad weather, the postponement date will be Sunday 29 November. Check our Facebook page for updates.

  • Wellington City Council's position on re-using graves

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    Recently we asked for your views on the idea of future graves being re-used, provided that original burial records were preserved.

    We’d like to assure you that we have no plans to re-use existing graves or disinter bodies already at our cemeteries. Currently, all plots are owned permanently unless there’s a deed that states otherwise. The status of existing plots will not change.

    Our cemeteries currently provide various burial options, including family plots, natural or coffin burials and ash interments. There are also areas designated for religious denomination and cultural groups, and for scattering ashes.

    Re-using graves is one of a number of options we’ll explore for new plots in the future, including the terms, conditions and personal choices for a plot. The re-use of graves would be strictly opt-in, and no-one will be forced to do this – it’s simply about providing a choice for those who want it.

    For people who choose to re-use a grave, at the end of an agreed time period, the family would have the option to surrender the plot or to continue for a further agreed period of time by paying a fee.

    Re-use of cemetery plots is common in various European countries. For example, in Germany plots are re-used after 15-30 years, and in Switzerland and Sweden 25 years. There is also some re-use in Australia.

    A fundamental principle in the draft Cemeteries Management Plan is recognising the diversity of belief and customs that different people and groups hold.

    The draft Plan will go out for formal consultation from Friday 6 November to Friday 11 December. You can have your say on re-using graves, and other issues, by filling out the online feedback survey that will be put up on this website shortly.

  • What you told us in the informal engagement

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    Thank you to everyone who took the time to complete our feedback survey during the informal engagement.

    We received 130 responses, and this is what we heard:

    The most frequent reason for visiting a cemetery was to visit the grave of a loved one (52% of respondents) and the second most frequent reason was for exercise (38%).

    80% of respondents were aware of the historical significance of Karori and Tawa Cemeteries. More than half would be interested in finding out more about family burial records, Wellington’s past and New Zealand’s past from cemetery records.

    66% of respondents were aware that family members are responsible for the upkeep of graves and headstones. There were a number of requests for more guidance on how best to undertake that care.

    We asked about preferences for how graves should look and be maintained. The majority (58%) of respondents preferred somewhere in between looking new and clean, and allowing gravestones to become aged and gradually overgrown.

    There was a wide spectrum of views about the concept of future graves being re-used, provided that original burial records were preserved. 50% of respondents either definitely or somewhat disagreed with this idea, while 41% definitely agreed or somewhat agreed, and 9% were neutral.

    Comments highlighted the difficult access in parts of the cemeteries, appreciation of the cemeteries as peaceful places to visit, and appreciation of the service that our cemeteries staff provide.

    These findings will be considered in conjunction with feedback from key stakeholder groups and will used to inform the development of a draft plan. The draft plan will go out for formal consultation in November 2020.

  • Plastic decorations in cemeteries: Here are the results of our Quick Poll ...

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    Many people like to place tributes on the graves of their loved ones, but the decorations can blow away, creating rubbish and causing pollution. We asked you: Should plastic decorations be banned from the city’s cemeteries?

    We received 38 votes in our Quick Poll. Of these, 58% answered yes, 39% answered no, and 3% were unsure.

    Feedback themes included:

    - The feeling that if families have paid for a grave site, they should be able to decorate it as they wish

    - Issues with decorations being removed from graves

    The aim of the poll was to gauge public opinion on plastic decorations. We’d like to stress that we aren’t contemplating an outright ban at this stage, although we may encourage a shift towards more environmentally friendly alternatives.

    Regarding items being removed from graves - currently, items are allowed on the headstones and concrete strip the headstones are fixed to. Items will be removed from lawn areas, where they can interfere with mowing maintenance, or if they encroach onto adjacent graves. Cemetery staff always try to contact families and will hold removed items for a period so that families can reclaim them.

    How you can have your say

    Quick Polls are just one of the ways we are seeking your feedback on our cemeteries. Our formal consultation on a draft Cemeteries Management Plan will open later in the year, so please make a submission.