Previously families could pre-purchase plots as part of a long-term plan as to where to bury their loved ones. However, population growth and increasing scarcity of land has meant a change in regulations at the Meadowbank cemetery.
Under the new rules plots can only be pre-purchased for imminent or immediate use, or by families who already have a loved one buried there.
According to Statistics New Zealand, the Auckland region is projected to account for about half of New Zealand’s population growth by 2048, with an increase of 648,000, from just over 1.6 million to just over 2.3 million. Auckland’s population is projected to reach 2 million in the early 2030s. Since 2000, Auckland’s population has grown at an average rate of 1.9 per cent per year.
Purewa General Manager Alastair Crombie says all this means there is increasing pressure on all Auckland cemeteries, not just Purewa.
“Like many other Auckland cemeteries Purewa is facing the pressure of an expanding population which places strain on available land for burials. To ensure we have sufficient plots for some years to come, the Board has decided to only allow pre-purchase for immediate or imminent need, or to families who already have a loved one buried at Purewa,” he says.
On current demand Purewa expects to be able to provide burial plots for about another 25 years. Although cremated remains now account for between 75 and 85 per cent of all interments in New Zealand, full body burial is still popular with many people.
This pressure on land for burial plots is reflected in a new pricing structure, and the fact that plots in older parts of the cemetery, which are popular, require extensive specialist work and expertise to dig and maintain.
Purewa was established in 1889 by the Anglican Church to provide a cemetery in the developing central and east Auckland. Families and ministers were faced with a day-long trip by train to Waikumete in West Auckland, which opened as a public cemetery in 1886. The 20-hectare (55 acre) cemetery remains the same size today as when it opened.