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Whenua Tapu Plastic Flowers And Tributes Blowing Away

Porirua City Council Cemetery Staff need your help keeping Whenua Tapu Cemetery tidy to show respect to the more than 10,000 people who call it their final resting place.

Whenua Tapu is a place where our community regularly visit their loved ones, often leaving floral tributes, wreaths and ornaments on graves.

However, the combination of the cemetery being a windy site and the fact that a lot of the flowers and ornaments are plastic, means that staff are having to fill a skip bin every week with non-biodegradable items that have blown away from where they were originally placed by visitors.

Bottles and glass vases are regularly broken and end up strewn on the grass, Acting Parks Operations Manager Mark Hammond says.

"Our staff do their best to respect and look after ornaments, keepsakes, flowers and other items by placing them back where we believe they’ve come from, but it is often difficult to work out where," he says.

"Flowers, bottles and other ornaments can get caught by mowers and line trimmers, making it not only a safety issue for staff but also it’s heart-breaking to be taking so many items to the skip. We need to keep Whenua Tapu tidy for the whole community to enjoy when they visit."

Some of the lighter items, like plastic flowers, can end up in streams and in Taupō Swamp, making them hazardous to birdlife and our natural environment.

"We absolutely understand it’s important for family, friends and visitors to leave tributes and other momentoes - we don’t want that to stop, because the colour and vibrancy at Whenua Tapu makes it a beautiful and restful place to visit," Mr Hammond says.

"However, we want to look after our environment, our staff, and keep this cemetery tidy, so we are asking people to explore different options."

This could include small temporary planter boxes with live plants, cut flowers without the plastic wrapping (the wrapping acts like a kite in strong winds) or ornaments from heavy material like clay or stone.

"Things like this means our cemetery staff can easily mow and trim around graves, keeping them looking well-kept."

We have recently refreshed our main information board at the entrance of the cemetery if visitors need to understand the guidelines around decorations.

If you want to learn more about the best ways you can ensure your loved ones’ tributes are looked after and stay put, come along to our Whenua Tapu open day on Saturday 7 November from 12-2pm.

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