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Water Cremations One Answer To Growing Pressure On Cemeteries

“Make sure your voice is heard.”

That from Water Cremation Aotearoa New Zealand spokesperson Debbie Richards, as the deadline to the review of the Burial and Cremation Act (1964) approaches.

The consultation was extended to 5pm October 31st as a result of the Covid-19 lockdowns. Ms Richards says the act has remained substantially the same for more than 50 years, making it well overdue for an overhaul.

“For several years we have been hearing about the pressure on our cemeteries and the issue has been raised again regarding Karori, with some suggesting that plots should be rented so they can be freed up after a certain time. Providing a more environmentally sustainable way of caring for the bodies of our loved ones is key to our business however there are other important advantages,” she says.

Water cremation, Resomation or Alkaline Hydrolysis is the process of dissolving the deceased in water and is currently not legal in New Zealand but is in parts of the US and Canada.

In 2015, a report from the Law Commission recommended changes to the Burial and Cremation Act (1964) describing it as “outdated” and needing to be repealed, while providing 127 recommendations.

Debbie Richards says New Zealanders have an opportunity to have a say on what they want in the management of a dead loved one and where their body finally rests. Thinking about things like environmental impact is also an important consideration.

“Water cremation has massive environmental benefits and as a society focused on environmental sustainability with climate change being a major concern, we believe New Zealanders would be very happy to have this option. We would like the recycled water that is left at the end of the process, to go back into the land, in a place that family (and others) can visit and enjoy.”

“I visited the US and the UK late last year where these machines have been developed, to see them working,” says Richards. “and we are in the early stages of discussions with Ngāi Tahu. It’s essential to recognise Tangata Whenua as Kaitiaki of the land, something important to all of us. We believe this is truly the way of the future,” she says.

Submissions on the Burial and Cremation Act close at 5pm on October 31st.

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