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Cemetery still coping with Covid-19 disruptions

Posted at 11:35am Tuesday 14 Jul, 2020

Life has returned to normal, but not quite, for staff at Auckland Memorial Park and Cemetery in Silverdale.

General manager Graeme Cummins says funeral services and associated activities have returned to pre-covid levels with one noticeable point of difference.

“There is a lack of attendance of overseas resident family and friends due to the current travel restrictions and mandatory 14 days isolation for returning travellers,” he says. “This has created a demand for the live streaming online of funerals for overseas family members.”

The park and cemetery, which is set on 17 hectares on East Coast Road, was established 21 years ago.

It offers many different options for burial, from traditional headstone berms to Feng Shui terraces, burial tree locations and family ash trees.

“There are about 20 different options to choose from so we can meet most individual needs. If a family wants something else, we are always happy to consider it.”

Graeme says about 70 per cent of burials are ash plot interments.

“Many services, and subsequent receptions, are held in our 50 seat historic cottage with the cremation taking place elsewhere. Cremation ash plots are an important option that we make available.”

Appropriate religious and cultural requirements are also catered for.

“We are the only cemetery in New Zealand that provides for the specific needs of Feng Shui principles, and we have the only consecrated burial area for the Russian Orthodox faith. We also provide for other orthodox faiths in an area adjacent to the Russian community. We offer the flexibility to accommodate the specific needs of many diverse groups, but the vast majority of our burials and our ash gardens are traditional burial areas.”

In terms of trends, Graeme says there has been interest in ‘eco burials' and this is an option that is being considered for the future.

“What constitutes an ‘eco burial' seems to differ from person to person, and we will be canvassing submissions from the community to ensure that whatever we pursue, reflects what the community wants,” he says.

Families are encouraged to choose and pre-purchase (sometimes called pre-need) plots, either for full burial or ash.

“We often have families coming to choose a plot, but are unsure what the deceased would have wanted.

“Pre-organising the plot also helps to relieve the burden at the time of loss, because that component of a funeral service has been organised.”

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