Allowing natural burials, dogs on leads in cemeteries and removing the provision that prohibits whaanau from filling in graves themselves are three of the key changes being proposed by Waikato District Council.
Consultation on Council’s proposed Cemeteries Bylaw 2023 is now open.
“Proposed changes would make our cemeteries more inclusive and reflective of the practices and beliefs of our community,” says Council Community Venues and Events Team Leader Samantha Baker.
“The proposed changes show our intention to make our cemeteries an inclusive space where whaanau and friends can grieve, and to respect the wishes of the dearly departed.”
The proposed changes come following early engagement with key stakeholders - including mana whenua, Taupiri Urupa Trustees, community boards and committees and funeral directors – which took place in 2022.
Natural burials, also known as ‘eco-burials’, occur when a body is prepared and buried in ways that do not slow the decomposition process, and often use eco-friendly options like flax, cardboard, untreated timber or cloth in place of the traditional casket. Early engagement indicated an overwhelming support for the addition of this provision, which would see Council identify key cemeteries where there is space available to be set aside to accept natural burials.
Feedback on the dogs on leads provision came through as a part of our Dog Control Bylaw and Policy consultation in December/January 2021/22 and indicates the preference voiced by Waikato district communities to allow dogs on leads onto cemetery grounds.
Mana whenua also showed an astounding preference for the removal of the provision that prohibits the ability for whaanau to fill in graves themselves, a role currently reserved for Council contractors. This change would allow for those who preference this approach to do so.
“Stakeholders who took part in early engagement helped to inform the suggestions we have made, but consultation offers an opportunity for our wider community to let us know if they agree or disagree,” adds Baker.