Community, Council

Burial law revamp could prove costly

Fairhall Cemetery is one of several which will see the cost of burial plots double over the next five years. Photo: Chloe Ranford/LDR.

Paula Hulburt and Chloe Ranford

 

A revamp to burial laws could see council bosses forced to hike up fees if forced to take on extra responsibilities.

Marlborough Council could be let counting the cost of any changes to the 56-year-old Burial and Cremation Act, costs which would be passed to the public.

But council are pushing back against extra responsibilities which could see costs climb again.

The move comes just 15-months after a price increase which came into effect on July 1 this year.

Council manages eight cemeteries across Marlborough at Ward (Flaxbourne), Seddon (Awatere), Omaka, Fairhall, Tua Marina, Picton, Havelock and Rai Valley.

Burial fees range from $2145 for a natural burial at Fairhall Cemetery to $981 for an adult burial interment and $193 for ashes to be interred

A Law Commission report says the Burial and Cremation Act is outdated and recommended a raft of changes.

It put forward 127 recommendations to modernise the law that governs death, burial, cremation and funerals in New Zealand.

Changes could see council take on the responsibility for maintaining headstones and monuments which could also raise legal questions about who owned what.

This would come at a “significant cost” to the council, with the “only option” being to increase cemetery fees or rates.

“The council already deals with a number of family conflict issues with cemetery plots and while on the one hand it can be said, ‘we are used to it,’ the reality is that every case is distressing where this occurs,” its submission says.

The council also opposed a suggestion that councils should be the ones to decide whether a family could dig up a body or ashes from a burial place for the same reasons.

It also did not want to become tangled in family disputes.

This was also the case for a new rule which, if approved, could see the council expand its eight cemeteries to include separate burial sections for military personnel or groups of people with common requirements, it said.

Submissions on the act close on 31 October at 5pm.

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