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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?

In line with the latest government guidelines, a maximum of 100 people are now permitted to attend the burial service.

All services must be organised through a registered Funeral Director, who will need to follow government guidelines for registering gatherings.

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.

Are Chapel services now available under Level 2?

A maximum of 100 people are permitted to attend a chapel service. 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. The number of services per day will be limited to allow for adequate sanitisation in between. Catering options are available at some sites, please contact the cemetery to discuss your requirements.

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.

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 100 family/whānau/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, as our sites are open to the public.

We do ask families to not approach operations staff while they are carrying out burials.

What is the procedure for burials?

The following burial procedures will be followed:

  • 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 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, whānau, and friends 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.

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 contact us.

A maximum of two people to bring the deceased. A maximum of 10 people will be able to view the cremation charge. For a burial, up to a maximum of 100 people will be allowed.

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. 

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.


Cremations

Will cremation services be available?

Cremations will continue but bookings must be made prior.

Under COVID-19 Alert Level 2, a maximum of 10 people will be able to view the cremation charge from behind glass in a private room (this is the part of the cremation process where a casket goes into a cremator and cremation begins.)

Attendees must register for contact tracing.

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, but prior booking is required. Application 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.

Bookings must be made prior.

A maximum of 100 people applies.


Visiting cemeteries

Will cemeteries now be open as normal to the public?

All our cemetery offices are open to the public. All cemetery gates and 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 sites, with a focus on aftercare for recent burials.

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.

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.

Safety of employees and the public

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

Our staffing levels have remained at pre-COVID-19 levels and would increase as needed to ensure we can carry out all burials and cremations, without undue delay.

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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