Friday, August 19, 2011

NZ's largest cemetery full

It's the biggest cemetery in New Zealand but Glen Eden's Waikumete is reaching its capacity.

Waikumete Cemetery manager Daniel Sales says unless changes are made to Auckland Council's district plan, the Great North Road site could be full sooner than people think.

"We've got between five and eight years of capacity left, depending on funeral numbers," Mr Sales says.

"But there are plans to look at changing the district plan to see what other areas within the cemetery we can use."

Waikumete first opened in 1886 and was established to replace the Symonds Street Cemetery in Auckland city.

It now stretches over almost 108 hectares and contains the remains of more than 70,000 people.

But Sales says there are about 33 hectares of undeveloped bush and scrub land within its boundaries that could be used.

He says this would allow the cemetery to extend its capacity by another 30 to 40 years.

"But that will have to go through the district plan process," Sales says.

"So we're starting that this year and we're hoping to have it all in place by the end of next year."

Auckland Council manager of regional and specialist parks Mace Ward says a discussion document will be released in the next three to four months and will set the groundwork for a new Waikumete Cemetery management plan.

It will look at which new areas could be used at the cemetery as well as the future use of some its historic buildings including the sexton's cottage.

"There is a really urgent need to make some decisions on Waikumete Cemetery," Ward says.

"Because the existing management plan has come to the end of its life."

He hopes to have a new management plan in place in the next 18 months.

- Stuff

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