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Planning for Waikumete’s future

Media Release
April 9, 2009

Planning for Waikumete’s future

Waitakere City Council will look at ways it can extend the life of Waikumete Cemetery until 2055 as burial space becomes a premium.

The council’s Infrastructure and Works Committee has given the green light to a programme that allows officers to start looking at options to extend the life of one of Auckland’s most historically significant cemeteries.

Just 8.6 hectares of the 108ha Waikumete site is available for future internments and if nothing is done, the cemetery would reach its capacity of new interments in about 2021. There currently are more than 80,000 gravesites at Waikumete.

Currently 56.8ha of land is taken up by existing graves and infrastructure (road, buildings etc) and a further 42.7ha is protected under the district plan.

“The only other public cemetery in the city is at Swanson, which is considerably smaller than Waikumete, already in high demand and nearing capacity with less than one hectare of available space left,” says Infrastructure and Works Committee chairman Derek Battersby.

“There aren’t any other suitable sites within the existing Metropolitan Urban Limit for a new cemetery so seeing if we can extend the life of Waikumete is necessary.”

One way to open up more land would be to follow Resource Management Act process to allow land with lower ecological values to be developed.

The council will also look in to new burial technologies to make the best use of land available. These could include above ground vaults and mausoleums for public burials.

Waikumete Cemetery manager Daniel Sales says new burial technologies are used extensively overseas to ensure most efficient use of land.

Officers are expected to report back to the Infrastructure and Works and Planning and Regulatory committees in December 2009 following further studies into new burial technologies and preliminary consultation with the Waikumete Cemetery advisory group and key stakeholders.

Public notification of proposed changes are expected to occur in February next year.

Editor’s note:
Waikumete Cemetery and Crematorium has served as the main cemetery for the Auckland Region since 1886. It is the largest cemetery in New Zealand and one of the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.

Considered as being of considerable cultural heritage significance, Waikumete contains the graves of many people who played a significant role, either locally or nationally. The surviving headstones, with their range of styles and inscriptions, are an invaluable source of genealogical and social history.

It is one of only two cemeteries in the northern half of the North Island where space is currently allocated for Muslim burials. It contains a significant number of mausoleums. In recognition of the need to provide for traditional Maori burials, an Urupa was established in 1996.

Waikumete was administered by the Auckland City Council from 1886 until 1989 when control was passed to the Waitakere City Council.


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