Natural Burials

Coffin standards

The core concept

Everything about our natural burial cemeteries is as ‘natural’ as possible. We will not introduce anything that would interfere with or pollute environmental processes. Our principles are; that the coffin breaks down quickly, allowing soil to reach the body soon after burial, that construction materials are locally sourced and naturally occurring, minimising their environmental impact in their manufacture and introduction to the soil.

Coffins should meet all seven conditions detailed below. We issue formal certification for individual coffins after reviewing descriptions of their components and corroborating evidence.

• Certified coffin suppliers are listed on this website and in our information packs.

• Certified coffins can use the words “Meets the coffin standard of  Natural Burials New Zealand”

• We do not charge a fee for certification. We cover these costs in our registration burial fee which is charged on all natural cemetery burials.

Compliance conditions

1.  Coffins, caskets or shrouds must be made of New Zealand, sustainably grown soft-wood with no preserving treatment.

Caskets made of hard woods sustainably grown or recycled in New Zealand are permitted but discouraged due to their long period of decomposition. Casket models made of these materials will not be certified. No imported woods are permitted.

2.  No composite boards are allowed unless eco-certified by an authority recognised by Natural Burial. Where composite components are minimal or structurally integral, a coffin may be awarded a 2nd tier certification, which means it is accepted for use in a natural cemetery, but not encouraged.

3.  No imported boards are allowed.

4.  No synthetic glues or plastic jointings.

5.  No oil-based paints or artificial stains.

6.  No plastic handles, non biodegradable cloths or fillings.

7.  No lead, metal or plastics handles or fixings, with the exception of minimal metal screws and nails.