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COVID-19 Alert Level 2 cemeteries FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about cemetery services during COVID-19 Alert Level 2.

Funerals and gravesite burials

Are burial services allowed during COVID-19 Alert Level 2?

Under COVID-19 Alert Level 2, a maximum of 50 people will be allowed to attend burial services.

In line with the latest government guidelines, up to 50 family/whānau/friends are permitted to go to the funeral home to view the body of the deceased and attend the burial service. 

All services must be organised through a registered Funeral Director, who will need to follow government guidelines for registering gatherings of more than 10, up to a maximum of 50. 

While we understand the significant impact this will have on families/whānau and friends, we must follow the guidance from the Ministry of Health and our Government.

All funeral service providers are required to keep these restrictions in place as we all work together to contain the spread of COVID-19. Please be assured we will work with the utmost care and respect for your loved ones during this time.

Are chapel and burial services allowed during COVID-19 Alert Level 2?

Chapel services will continue. A maximum of 50 people will be allowed to attend. All attendees must be seated. Spacing between seats will be set up to allow for physical distancing.

Attendees must register on arrival for contact tracing and maintain physical distancing requirements. The number of services per day will be limited to allow for adequate sanitisation in between. Catering is available, but options may be limited. 

While we understand the significant impact this will have on families/whānau and friends, we must prioritise the safety and wellbeing of the public and staff during this challenging time.

How do I go about purchasing a burial plot during Alert Level 2?

Plot purchases will only be available to families who have lost a loved one or whose loved one has been diagnosed as terminally ill. Prior bookings for these plot purchases are essential. If you do not have an immediate need for a burial plot, please hold off contacting our team until we return to business as usual.

What happens if someone dies unexpectedly and a plot has not been purchased?

If you are arranging a burial for a loved one and need to purchase a plot, our usual at-need plot purchase process will apply. We have plots available for those who have not pre-purchased plots, however the ability to choose a plot may be limited due to operational requirements.

You can contact our team for further information on what is available.

By phone: 0800 4 CEMETERY (0800 4 2363 8379)

By email:

Is it possible to film and live stream the burials for families who would like to watch from home?

Any filming or photography will need to be arranged between the family and whānau of the deceased and the funeral director.

How can families/whānau/friends say farewell to deceased loved ones?

Up to 50 family/whanau/friends may attend the burial. But all other family and whānau are unfortunately still not permitted while we are the first stage of Alert Level 2. Families can visit the cemetery after the burial.

We do ask families to not approach operations staff while they are carrying out burials, and to maintain social distancing and avoid congregating on site.

Can a family car follow the hearse to the cemetery car park?

Yes, if the members of the family and whānau are authorised to attend the burial. Authorisation is obtained prior to burial through your funeral director and is restricted to a maximum of 50 persons due to the government Covid-19 guidelines.

For those authorised family or whānau who are allowed to attend a burial, what will the protocol involve?f

For burials that are going to be attended, funeral directors will need to provide a list of attendees to Auckland Council, prior to the burial. Attendance is restricted to a maximum of 50 persons due to the Government’s current Covid-19 guidelines.

Only persons named on the list will be permitted entry into the site. Security will monitor this and ID will be requested.

Any groups of over 50 people will be notified to police and Ministry of Health for their awareness.

Burial procedures:

  • Funeral Directors and family will be responsible for carrying caskets and for lowering and for health and safety at graveside. 
  • Burial teams will not be attending but will backfill as soon as the family have left.
  • Pallbearers are to be organised prior to arrival and communicated to the cemetery on the spreadsheet (provided to funeral directors) to allow us to plan and accommodate pallbearer requirements. The preference for lowering devices or sticks and straps will need to be specified.
  • In the event no lowering option is specified, a lowering device will be the provided option.
  • For those attending where there are not enough people to carry and lower, the cemetery burial team will carry and lower.
  • If the cemetery burial team are carrying and lowering, ‘attendees must remain at distance and will need to wait until the cemetery burial team have moved away before moving to graveside.

For family and whānau who are not able to attend burials, what is council doing to ensure each burial is carefully managed to ensure loved ones are buried in the correct location?

Plot certificate records, held in cemetery offices, are matched with death certificate details to ensure the burial takes place in the correct location. Flags are set out to guide the family and whānau who are authorised to attend to the correct burial site on the day of burial. Burial teams cross-reference the documents at the graveside prior to the burial proceeding. 

Loves ones can visit the cemetery after the burial, as pedestrian access remains open at our sites. 

We do ask families to not approach operations staff while they are carrying out burials, and to maintain social distancing and avoid congregating on site in large groups.

What is the process for pre-term /neonatal baby cremations and burials?

Pre-term /neonatal baby cremations and burials will take place. Bookings are required, please see Contact Us below. A maximum of two people to bring the deceased. A maximum of  20 people will be able to view the cremation charge. For a burial, up to a maximum of 50 people will be allowed. Physical distancing and contract tracing applies.

Is it still possible to arrange a natural burial, including Muslim burials, during the pandemic?  

Yes, both natural and Muslim burials are allowed. Both of these burials types usually take place without a casket. 

What are you doing about tangihanga tikanga (protocol) during the Covid-19  Alert Level 2?

How will other cultural practices or rituals around bodies or ashes be observed during this time?

We will endeavour to follow cultural practices as much as we can, however during Alert Level 2, rituals with the deceased may have to take place offsite. 

Guidelines from the Ministry of Health enable funeral directors to allow religious rituals for the care of the body to occur. However, these must be carried out in the presence of an embalmer who will give direction to anyone present on the correct PPE requirements. Activities such as kissing, washing or touching the body must not occur before, during or after the viewing.

For example, two fundamental requirements for funeral and burial in Muslim communities include ghusl (ritual washing) and janaza (prayer over the body). These must be carried out by Muslim people and must follow strict rules for body handling. In this example, funeral directors may wish to work with their Muslim communities to identify Muslim males and females who can prepare the body of the deceased to meet their requirements for funeral and burial, while under the supervision of  embalming staff.

What is the process for burials at satellite cemeteries, such as at Papakura South Cemetery, Heights Park, Wainui Cemetery, Waikaraka Cemetery, Swanson Cemetery etc?

They will follow the same processes as our main cemeteries - attendance will be restricted to authorised family and whānau, as well as burial staff.

Visiting cemeteries

Will cemeteries now be open as normal to the public?

All our cemetery offices are open to the public from Monday, August 31.  All cemetery gates are now open. Public toilets are open.

Will there be security on site?

Security may be in attendance at some sites. We are reviewing security needs on an ongoing basis to ensure the safety of the public and cemetery services staff.

Will council still carry out its grave aftercare maintenance programme during the pandemic?

Yes, our staff are continuing their daily operations within all our sites and we will continue to maintain our site, with a focus on aftercare for recent burials. This may also depend on weather conditions.

We ask visitors to respect all signage at sites. Dogs are permitted at Waikumete Cemetery and North Shore Memorial park on leash only. No dogs are permitted at Manukau Memorial Gardens.

What do I do if I need to report a grave maintenance problem during Alert Level 2?

Please contact our team. If your request relates to grounds maintenance (i.e. mowing, trimming or garden maintenance) there may be some delay to getting this work done as we need to prioritise burials and cremations. We will get to these requests as soon as we can.

How do I report vandalism during the COVID-19 Level 2?

Please contact our team:

By phone: 0800 4 CEMETERY (0800 4 2363 8379)

By email:

When contacting our team about vandalism, please include the following so we can accurately locate the area of concern:

  • The name of the cemetery.
  • The exact location within the cemetery number.
  • If relating to a burial plot or memorial, the plot number, area name or row number as well as the name of the deceased and the date of death.
  • Any photos of the damage.

Cremations

Will cremation services be available? 

Cremations will continue but bookings must be made prior. Under COVID-19 Alert Level 2, a maximum of 20 people will now be able to view the cremation charge (this is the part of the cremation process where a casket goes into a cremator and cremation begins). 

Attendees must register for contact tracing and maintain physical distancing requirements. 

The number of services per day will be limited to allow for adequate sanitisation in between.

What happens to the ashes during Alert Level 2?

Family/whānau/friends are able to collect ashes, prior booking is required. Applications should be emailed to the relevant cemetery team (see Contact Us for details) and processing will be completed by the cemetery admin team.

Please ensure applications are accompanied by both the applicant’s photo identification and photo identification for the person responsible for payment. Applications need to be completed fully, including the loved one’s full legal name and date of death.

Can we hold ash burials and scattering of ashes services?

Yes, unassisted ash burial services and scattering of ashes recommence. A maximum of 50 people applies, as well as physical distancing and contact tracing requirements. Bookings must be made prior.

Safety of employees and the public

Are you reducing staff numbers while we are at Alert Level 2?

Our staffing has remained at pre-COVID-19 levels.

What steps are you taking to safeguard public safety in cemeteries?

Public attendance at burial services on site is strictly limited to a maximum of 50 family/whānau/friends. Sites remain open to the public to access for exercise and recreation.

We ask all members of the public to adhere to the physical distancing guidelines.

How will you monitor and manage social distancing during cemetery opening hours?

As we operate in a public open space, we are unable to monitor all people on site. We ask the public to adhere to social distancing requirements.  Our staff will stop work if anyone within the immediate vicinity of a burial is not maintaining social distancing.

Will cemetery staff be wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) during burials and cremations?

Yes, our staff have been issued with additional PPE to use during burials and cremations, including gloves, masks, and eye protection, in addition to their standard PPE.

What safety measures are you putting in place for cemetery staff?

We are limiting contact with the general public to reduce the risk of transmission between people. Our staff will have PPE on hand to use when handling caskets and carrying out their operations. We have a dedicated team set up to handle Covid-19 related burials, as needed.

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