Cemeteries Policy


1.0  Purpose

This policy deals with aspects of Cemeteries operations not covered by the Cemeteries Bylaw.

2.0  Background

Council is responsible for eight cemeteries within the District.  Four of these are situated in the urban areas of Geraldine, Pleasant Point, Temuka and Timaru.  The remainder are in rural locations.

There is a requirement in the Burial and Cremations Act 1964 for Local Authorities to provide a cemetery where sufficient provision is not otherwise available.

Some cemeteries traditionally had separate areas for different denominations.  This became an inefficient way of managing space in cemeteries and in most larger cemeteries has not been Council policy since the early 1990’s.  However, in Geraldine and Arundel cemeteries there is still a practice of using the denominational areas because of the layout design.

With more ethnic diversity in the community in recent times there is now a broader range of religions.  Current legislation allows for an appeal to a District Court Judge if a governing body of a religious denomination is not granted a portion of a cemetery, although this is under review.

Some people like to plan ahead and purchase plots while they are living.  This means that the cemetery space is allocated quicker than normal and concrete beams are required sooner.  It also means that interments are not undertaken in a systematic way and some plots remain unused.  The Burial and Cremations Act 1964 specifies that any exclusive right of burial shall lapse if a plot is unused after 60 years.  If this happens or the owner wishes to sell an unused plot back to Council they are refunded the actual purchase price at the time of purchase.

3.0  Key Definitions

  • Cemetery - an area set aside for graves and ashes interments, especially one that is not associated with a church yard.
  • Interment - the act or ceremony of burial of a deceased body or placement of ashes following cremation in their final resting place.
  • Pre-purchase of Plot - a plot is purchased in the name of a living person.

4.0  Policy

  1. Council will provide a minimum of four cemeteries for the Timaru District.  These will be located within or near Geraldine, Pleasant Point, Temuka and Timaru.
    1. The existing cemeteries at Mesopotamia, Woodbury, Arundel and Pareora West will continue to operate until their capacity for interments is reached, after which a replacement cemetery will not be established in these areas unless it is to service an area centred on one of the nominated four urban areas in 4.1.
  2. Council’s preference is to operate cemeteries on a non denominational basis.  If there is a demonstrated and/or legal requirement to create one or more exclusive religious denominational areas, it shall be sufficient to provide for each exclusive religious denomination in only one cemetery within Timaru District.
  3. The pre-purchase of one plot per person is generally permitted, subject to availability.
    1. Where a plot is to be used by a member or former member of the New Zealand military services and they plan to be interred as per Veteran Affairs procedures in the Services Section of a cemetery, where provided, pre-purchasing of plots is not permitted.
    2. Where supply of plots is limited, the Parks and Recreation Manager is delegated authority to terminate pre-purchasing of plots.  This delegation applies if space on a beam is limited and applies until a new beam is available for use.  It also applies if a particular cemetery is reaching its capacity for additional plots.

Adopted Community Development Committee 26 April 2016

Last updated: 24 Feb 2021