Natural Burials

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We are the not-for-profit organisation that introduced certified natural burials to New Zealand and advises local councils on how to establish natural burial cemeteries across the country.

We promote, certify and monitor cemeteries, coffin makers and funeral directors for adherence to our standards.
We advise consumers of their rights.

What is a natural burial? Check our description here.

Call us
0800 525 500

Email us
info@naturalburials.co.nz

48 thoughts on “Home

  1. Glenys

    I live in Kerikeri and am interested in working with Council to establish a natural burial site adjacent to the existing cemetery. There is a land put aside for future use and maybe it could be converted into a site that follows your recommendations.

    Have you heard from anyone in this area who has expressed interest in such a site? I haven’t got a clue on how to approach Far North District Council about this.

    I look forward to hearing back.

    Regards,
    Glenys

    1. admin Post author

      Hi there – we haven’t heard from many in the Far North. That doesn’t mean no one is interested at all – it’s probably more a case of people not aware of it as an option and not thinking they can change the situation. You’ll know there is now a cemetery in Whangarei? I knoww that’s not a solution, but it means there is one not too far away.
      Your question about how to approach the council is a big one – and can’t be answered quickly here. We’re happy to help – call us. In short, you call the Parks manager to find out whether they have plans, then sound out a couple of Councillors about the need for one and probable demand (it’s about 30% of people in any region), then see if you can get some support of residents (organise a public meeting / ask through local media and social media) and at least one local funeral director, then submit a proposal to (probably) the council environment committee (we have proposal templates) to adopt a policy of creating one… then keep the pressure on until they create one in conjunction with our organisation. It sounds daunting, and it isn’t easy or quick – but we’ve done it in many towns now – we can help.

  2. June Bright

    I am looking for natural burial possibilities in Te Awamutu and on private land in Pirongia where we have a QETrust covenant. One idea is to set up a family business. Another is to try to set up something for family and friends.. It seems that most natural burial forests are set up by trusts on council land. Apart from Urupa , are people finding any other options? I am 83 and would like my family to just dig a hole and bury my remains under a tree but evidently they would not be allowed to stay there and that would create a problem.

    June Bright

    1. admin Post author

      Hi June. Plenty of people on large tracts of rural land still bury their own. It’s against the law not to be buried on land zoned a cemetery unless your last resting place before burial was over 31km from a cemetery.

      When we looked at the ‘social enterprise’ model in the early days of the organisation, our lawyers advised at great expense to us that although the wording of the Burials and Cremations Act was somewhat unclear, they felt certain that the intent of the politicians had been that ONLY local authorities could run cemeteries. That is, they could not be a business. You could set up a scheme with family and friends, but you would have to get the land zoned as a cemetery by the council. The only viable option is to work with councils, and after almost 20 years, we’re now finding no resistance. There’s plenty of room for some councils to set up sub-standard natural cemeteries though…

  3. Shannon

    Hiya 🙂 i have been reading a lot about natural burial lately and truly believe that people should be more informed and know about this option more!! i used to be all about cremate and scatter but, bugger it!, let me rot in the ground the good old fashioned way!! Harming none 🙂 i am in tauranga and see that we are pretty out of luck here!! how do i go about trying to change this?? do i approach local council? go chat to a funeral home? pester all my friends with my death-pinions??
    any advise greatly appreciated 🙂

    1. admin Post author

      Hi there, you’ll need a small group of commited people, and the backing of our organisation – we’ve got all the paperwork on how to set the cemeteries up. You approach the council directly and request it – first some friendly councillors, then likely the local council parks and recreation staff. A supportive local funeral director would be an advantage.

  4. Kathleen

    Earlier I read something about ‘nothing synthetic in the ground’ … I smashed my elbow and subsequently received a metal implant … would this need to be removed to qualify for a natural burial? Just curious …

    1. admin Post author

      That is the operating principle of natural burials – nothing synthetic added to the ground. But its a principle – sometime practicalities have to be accepted if there’s no alternative. Funeral Directors don’t remove the metal implants and our protocols don’t require it. Ultimately, the metal will rust and turn into its originally compounds, so it’s not technically pollution…

  5. Jackie addenbrooke

    because I had a bad experience with an undertaker when my son was killed mountaineering and I care deeply about the environment, if I followed your natural burial guide lines why can’t I be buried on my own land beside my dogs and the good stand of native bush forest looking out from my Hill?

    1. admin Post author

      Sorry to hear about that bad experience. We have found funeral directors to be an essential part of spreading the word about natural burials – but not all of them are into it, or the parallel ideas of choice and family involvement.

      In terms of being buried on your own land: Plenty of people on large tracts of rural land still bury their own. It’s against the law not to be buried on land zoned a cemetery unless your last resting place before burial was over 31km from a cemetery.

      When we looked at the ‘social enterprise’ model in the early days of the organisation, our lawyers advised at great expense to us that although the wording of the Burials and Cremations Act was somewhat unclear, they felt certain that the intent of the politicians had been that ONLY local authorities could run cemeteries. That is, they could not be a business. You could set up a scheme with family and friends, but you would have to get the land zoned as a cemetery by the council. The only viable option is to work with councils, and after almost 20 years, we’re now finding no resistance. There’s plenty of room for some councils to set up sub-standard natural cemeteries though…

    1. admin Post author

      Hi there Fiona – I’m sorry but we’ve not had any contact with anyone trying to set up a site at Waiheke. We’d be pleased to learn about local people wanting a site, and only to glad to help them out.

  6. Lea

    It’s great to see the new natural burial area at Waikumete Cemetery officially opened this week. A lovely blessing ceremony and tree planting was held.

  7. Lisa

    Hi there – do you know anything about a potential site in the Bay of Plenty. Someone told me about a proposed site in Te Puke. Do you know who I can contact about this? I would like to help advocate for a site here – and have started a graphic design project on natural burials. Perhaps I can help them out?

    1. admin Post author

      HI there Lisa,
      We’re not aware of a site planned in Te Puke, but there is a small effort gathering to set one up. You should get in contact with Wendy, the secretary-treasurer of Te Puke Environmental forum. They held an Environmental Forum in July about Natural Burials. They are keen on all the support they can get. In our experience, local effort is one half of the solution to getting a council to set one up. The other half is the contribution of our experience.

  8. Dean

    Just curious really. What certification(s) do State of Grace hold that makes them the organization certified funeral directors? Are there natural burial / cremation service certifications one should be aware of when researching funeral homes and directors??

    1. admin Post author

      Hello Dean,
      That’s a very good question. Yes, State of Grace are certified by as as funeral directors who carry out natural burials to our standard. This is not a certification of their funeral directors training, but rather that they know how to carry out a natural burial (there’s practical actions required when not embalming, and in following a “nothing synthetic in the ground” approach), that they ensure a personalised funeral, and that they are committed to the principles. Customer feedback is important to our continued certification. There is general inudstry training for funeral directors, and customers should look for evidence of that – but there is little substitute for experience, and for talent in the customer-facing elements of natural burials.

  9. Robin Treadwell

    Hi – wonderful to find your site, and thank you for all the work you are doing! We are interested in setting up an eco-burial option on Waiheke and would appreciate your advice.
    Meantime, please advise re your publications – is there both the book for $19 and the Natural Wishes living will pack for $17 incl p&p? I would like both. Thanks. Robin

    1. admin Post author

      Hello Robin,
      I apologise for missing this message from you. That’s great news that you’re looking at setting up a natural cemetery in Waiheke. That is a wonderful location! Please contact us directly by phone to discuss how we can work togethert to make it a reality: 0800 525 500.
      Yes, we have the book for $19, which covers a lot of the practical aspects behind natural burial and advice on what’s involved in the burial, funeral and in the cemeteries. Our living will pack is $30, and includes the book, living will template documents, a guide to writing a living will and various background material. The best option is to deposit the money into our bank account and email us your contact details: info@naturalburials.co.nz
      All proceeds go to our not for profit work like helping people who want to set up natural cemeteries!

  10. Jenny Elliott

    Hi…I’dI say thank you for the work you are doing….what about hawkes bay? Any options for a natural burial there? And is there an advocacy group that you know of?

    1. admin Post author

      Hello Jenny,

      We’re not aware of any plans in the Hawkes Bay. We’ve had two or three people from the area buried in the Wgtn cemetery. In terms of groups, there was a Hawkes Bay “die-alogue” held by the
      Hospice Tairawhiti in May at a Gisborne café. They got people together to talk about death and dying. They are hoping to convene a group of people particularly interested in natural burials, to help advocate for a natural cemetery locally, If you are interested, contact
      Nicola Carroll, nicola@hospicetairawhiti.org.nz

  11. Helen

    Hi, First great work doing this! I’m hoping there’ll be an eco-plot for me when my time comes.
    Also, a few things for your consideration to make this web-page better, if/when you have time. 1. I can’t read the bluey grey text below here, on the green background.You might like to consider a brighter font for the text.
    2. Dates on posts would be good, so we know how recent or old the information is. Maybe they are there but not visible because of 1.
    3. links to the cemeteries with eco burial sites and to some suitable funeral directors.
    I realize you’re probably all volunteers with lots of other stuff to do, and understand perfectly if this is low priority or beyond your capacities at present. Just thought you’d like to know about the visibility issue.

    1. admin Post author

      Thanks for the heads up and advice. We’ve recently changed to the wordpress format, and it’s taken some getting used to. We’re adding content gradually this week.

  12. Belinda

    Hi,
    Sorry it has taken me so long to respond. I am really interested in the natural burial idea mostly from and ecological point of view. I don’t have any expertise in funerals, but I would be interested in being involved in an advocacy group.

  13. vicki

    Hello. Please could you let me know what options are available in the South Canterbury area. In fact, do you have a list for the whole of New Zealand? We have just buried my dad in England in a beautiful woodland cemetery and I want to ensure I can do the same in NZ. Thanks.

    1. admin Post author

      Hi there, we’re afraid that there is nothing around your area yet. Christchurch and Dunedin both agreed to set one upa long time ago, but have not found a site. Current sites in the South Island are in Marlborough and Nelson. North Island sites are in Wellington (the flagship), Otaki, New Plymouth, Carterton, and Hamilton (not certified).

  14. Michele

    Hi there, Can you please give me some info regarding any natural burial sites near Christchuch. many thanks from Michele

    1. admin Post author

      Hello. Current sites in the South Island are in Marlborough and Nelson. Christchurch and Dunedin both agreed to set one upa long time ago, but have not found a site. Christchurch Council has all but given up looking for one. We’re concentrating on finding one on Banks Peninsula. There is a Canterbury region support group, advocating to set up a site.

  15. Belinda

    Hi ,
    Can you tell me if there is any update on natural burial sites in the Auckland region? I would love to see this pushed forward. I understand Waikumete Cemetery is nearly at capacity and was wondering what thought has been given to new burial sites. It would be great to start off a new site with a natural burial area.

    1. admin Post author

      Very good question. We’ve advocated for a site in the region for years. Amalgamation held things up. Waikumete Cemetery is proposing setting one up in a new dedicated zone. We’ve not had a chance to see it, but we know from our work elsewhere that location is very important to the success. We are trying to pull together a fledgling advocacy group and need people to lead it. If you can help, please let us know – otherwise, keep watching these pages for more info.

  16. Dianne

    Hi like one of your questions this is also from Auckland. Who are your organisation certified funeral directors you may suggest up here so embalming etc does not occur. I understand that there is still a delay in obtaining eco funerals here but if you wanted to go to Wellington you still could but pay an out of area fee?

    1. admin Post author

      Our certified funeral director in Auckland is State of Grace funerals. They’re wonderful. Most funeral directors know how to deal with not embalming, but you have to be insistent. I’m afraid you are right about the out of area fee the Wgtn Council charges to people who have lived outside Wellington city for more than five years before death. It’s about $900. If that’s not a significant problem, funeral directors, or friends and relatives, can transport the body themselves to Wellington. It’s happened a couple of times already. There is a site in Hamilton, but it is not yet certifed by us.

    1. admin Post author

      Not very well we’re sorry to say. We have had absolutely no interest from the Council in the past when we have appraoched them. Are you interested in being part of a local advocacy group? They make all the difference in our work partnering with Councils to set up a successful site. We have had several inquiries from people in Whangarei. Please let us know.

  17. Patrick Moss

    what is the closest natural burial site to Central Auckland? How would I arrange for this in my will?

    Thanks in advance

    1. admin Post author

      Hello there,
      Unfortunately you don’t have many options in Auckland or the region. The closest is in Hamilton. Although we have not yet certified this cemetery, it was prepared after consultation with us, and we have offered to the Council that we certify and promote the site.
      The Waikumete cemetery in Auckland is looking into setting up a natural burial zone and we have approached them to assist and certify. But it has not yet ready.
      In terms of arrangements, your best course is to mention in your will that you want a natural burial at a natural cemetery BUT you also need to write this in a “living will” which you keep around home and provide to who-ever may be looking after your affairs should you die. Our organisation certified funeral directors who are able to conduct natural burials. If you use a certified director, they will know what to do the moment they are called.
      Thanks for your question.

  18. Katy

    Hi, my friend has a terminal illness and has always wanted to be buried under a tree. How do we go about this and what are the costs involved. Is there a cemetery near Feilding?

    1. admin Post author

      Hello, your closest natural cemetery is Otaki, as Palmertson North Councillors voted down the planned site, so another one is being sought. All you will need to do is contact the local Natural Burials certified funeral director, Kapiti Coast funeral home (04-298 5168), and they will help with arrangements including booking the plot. An alternative is to plan on using the Wellington cemetery, which is nicer.

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