28 Oct 2015

Burial may be allowed on some farm land

8:40 pm on 28 October 2015

Deceased family members could be buried on privately owned farm land in the near future, if the government implements recommendations made by the Law Commission.

New Zealand farm

Dr Mapp said if the land was on-sold an arrangement would need to be made for the family to visit the grave site. Photo: 123rf

The commission has been reviewing the Burial and Cremation Act (1964) and presented its findings to Parliament this morning.

The report recommends substantial changes to New Zealand's burial and cremation laws to meet the needs of what it calls an increasingly diverse society.

The commissioner who led the review, Wayne Mapp, said it was recommending owners of private rural properties should be able to apply to their local council for burial on their land.

Dr Mapp said councils should be required to consider the applications and would have the power to decline one, if it appeared the owners or managers of the farm were unable to maintain the land for a long period of time.

He said it was about giving people other options.

"Historically I think the view was taken that everyone should be buried in municipal cemeteries or churches, denominational cemeteries, which is ironical when you consider back in the nineteenth century people made their own decisions. Perhaps ... in New Zealand everything had to be controlled centrally.

"People have moved away from that and want more freedom of choice."

He said if the land was on-sold, an arrangement would need to be made for the family to go and visit the grave site.

"You'd expect them to have that ability. The site itself would have to be noted in the title and you'd expect people would be able to visit it," he said.

The government has six months to respond to the review, which also recommends modernising how deaths are certified and making it easier to open a privately-run crematorium.

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