Our Wellington

News | 6 November 2020

Draft Cemeteries Management Plan open for feedback

Wellington City Council’s draft strategic and management plan for Mākara, Karori and Tawa Cemeteries is now open for public feedback.

Image of graves at Karori Cemetery

The Council has statutory responsibilities under the Burials and Cremations Act to provide for burials and manage cemeteries. The draft plan is based on a review of the existing 2003 management plan, and informed by findings from an informal consultation with key interest groups and the wider public earlier in the year.

The general intent of the plan has not changed significantly, but it has been restructured and substantially rewritten for more clarity, says Councillor Fleur Fitzsimons, Public Health portfolio lead.

“Capacity is a key issue at the Council’s cemeteries. Karori Cemetery is full for casket burials unless family have an existing grave, and only a small number of ash plots are available. 

“Mākara Cemetery is gradually reaching capacity and is expected to be full by 2038. The draft plan proposes the acquisition of more land and beginning development within the next three years to ensure we can meet the needs of our growing city.” 

The draft plan explores a new option of offering interment rights for a shorter period of time, after which graves can be re-used. This option would be on a strictly opt-in basis and offered as a personal choice as one of a range of burial and cremation options offered. The Council has no plans to re-use existing graves or disinter bodies already at its cemeteries. 

It is proposed that Karori Cemetery, which was established in 1890 and is New Zealand’s 2nd largest cemetery, will be recognised as a historic place, says Mayor Andy Foster.

“Karori Cemetery is full except for a few pre-existing family plots, and the stories it tells from the headstone inscriptions and names of those buried there represent a rich tableau of Wellington history.

“The draft plan outlines the approach for the ongoing management at Karori including archaeological assessment, conservation planning and reducing damaging tree growth. 

“Heritage restoration is proposed in the first three years of the plan and will focus on planning with no new funding allocated to doing any work on the ground or changing the way things are currently managed and maintained. New funding, if needed, will be considered in the next Long-term Plan.”

Other topics covered in the draft plan include customer service, grave decorations, grave site maintenance, natural environment, visitor experience and sustainability. 

The draft plan, consultation overview document and online feedback survey are available at: wgtn.cc/review-cemeteries.

Feedback is open until 5pm Friday 11 December. The final plan is expected to be completed by the end of May 2021.