Cemeteries Bylaw Consultation

Current Consultations

Cemeteries Bylaw Consultation

Timaru District Council is reviewing the wording of the Cemeteries Bylaw.

We are proposing to remove some words in part of the bylaw to allow for burials to occur in accordance with a wider range of beliefs and cultures.

We want to know what you think.


The Burial and Cremation Act 1964 has been undergoing a review by the Ministry of Health.

The New Zealand Law Commission has advised the Ministry of Health that this law does not meet the requirements of current legislation, in particular the Bill of Rights.

While the review has stalled, Timaru District Council has decided to proactively consider updating the relevant bylaw to reflect the diversity of beliefs within the District.

The current wording of bylaw 905.2 requires any natural burial to then be planted to form a native bush or forest area.

"905.2. Natural burials are defined as chemical free interments (without embalming and using rapidly biodegradable caskets) in a separate area which is subsequently planted to form a native bush or forest area and does not have a traditional headstone or memorial on the grave. Burials may be recorded separately in a book, on site signage, or digitally. This approach enables natural processes to take place, returning the body’s nutrients to the ecosystem rapidly and without pollution."

This prevents any other type of natural burial, such as one that does not have a native bush or forest area planted on top of the grave.

Consequently, some Timaru residents have needed to lay their loved ones to rest outside of the District – such as in Christchurch or Dunedin – as their belief does not permit for a tree to be planted over the grave.

What is being proposed?

Timaru District Council is proposing a minor amendment to the Bylaw to allow burials that meet the needs of the diversity of people that call the Timaru District home.

A full review of Chapter 9 of the bylaw will occur once the review of the Burial and Cremation Act is completed by the Government.

Proposed amendment

Remove the words “which is subsequently planted to form a native bush or forest area”


Removing these words provides greater options to the residents of the District. It does not change the ability to have a natural burial which may include the planting of a tree, but removes the requirement that it must occur.

Have your say

Let us know what you think about our proposed change to the Cemeteries Bylaw.

You can do this by:

  • Completing the online submission form here
  • Completing the physical submission form and posting it back to Council, or;
  • Completing the physical submission form, scanning it and emailing it to submission@timdc.govt.nz

Submissions open on Friday 3rd November and close on Sunday 19th November 2023 at 5pm.

If you have any questions about the proposed changes, email: brendan.madley@timdc.govt.nz

If you have any questions about the submissions process, email: submission@timdc.govt.nz

Alternatively, contact us via telephone: 07 687 7200.

Privacy Statement

All submissions are public information and will be included on Council’s website or in public documents located at Council offices and Libraries/Service Centres. This will include your name.

Your contact information (phone number and/or email address and/or postal address) will not be made publicly available.

Your contact information will be accessible to, and used by, Council staff for submission administration purposes.

All information is held by Council in accordance with the Privacy Act 2020. You have the right to access and correct personal information.

Last updated: 03 Nov 2023