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New rules for Waikato district cemeteries

Waikato district cemeteries are moving one step closer to being more inclusive for all with the the new 2023 Cemeteries Bylaw.

Following public consultation, the 2023 Cemeteries Bylaw was approved by the Policy and Regulatory Committee and is due to be fully adopted by Council on 17 July.

Once adopted, key changes will include Council providing natural burial options at selected cemeteries, allowing family and loved ones to backfill graves, and allowing dogs on leads to enter cemeteries.

“Our previous bylaw was operating well, however following a round of public consultation last year with key stakeholders including mana whenua, Taupiri Urupā trustees, community boards and funeral directors, we identified improvements that needed to be made to enhance its effectiveness.

“The new bylaw highlights our commitment to making cemeteries a more inclusive space, and also our responsibility to seek feedback from and listen to those within our community,” says Deidre MacDonald, Cemeteries Officer at Waikato District Council.

One of the key changes will see Council provide natural burial options at selected cemeteries, with the intention of limiting environmental impacts.

Natural burials often use eco-friendly options like flax, cardboard, untreated timber, or cloth in place of traditional caskets, and bodies are prepared and buried in ways that do not slow the decomposition process.

“The step to include natural burials at selected sites is still in the development process, but we’re excited about adopting this change and the impacts it will have.”

The new bylaw will also allow families and loved ones to backfill graves themselves, a role that has previously been reserved for Council staff and contractors only.

“Giving families and loved ones the ability to backfill graves is a step in the right direction when it comes to inclusion, as well as helping family and whaanau heal and grieve.”

Additionally, dogs will be permitted within cemeteries as long as they are on a lead at all times, allowing those grieving a loved one to be accompanied by their furry friend. The change comes as a reflection on the Dog Control Bylaw and Policy 2022, as well as feedback from early engagement.

For more information, the bylaw can be found here: