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Nehunga ā-taiao

Natural burial

Whatungarongaro te tangata toitū te whenua - As people disappear from sight, the land remains.

​What is a natural burial?

A natural burial is the interment of a body in the soil in a manner that does not slow decomposition, but allows the body to recycle naturally.

The intention of this type of burial is to have as little environmental impact as possible when a body is buried.

Plot allocation

The planting of trees or shrubs over the site of burial is common practice for natural burials.

Ecosystem restoration plans determine the location of plots in order to achieve the regeneration aims. Therefore plots cannot be reserved and are allocated sequentially.


Disinterment is discouraged (except as required by law) for natural burials as the state of the body after interment will be such that little or no remains of the body will be recoverable.

Natural burial requirements

  • Burial plot - To enable the progressive continuity of forest restoration burial placement is sequential and is not subject to personal selection.
  • Depth of burial – Burials are made within the active upper soil levels at single depth, with a minimum depth cover of 800mm.
  • Caskets – Caskets, coffins or shroud bearers should be made of chemically untreated and unprocessed materials.
  • Shrouds – Shrouds are a length of cloth or an enveloping garment in which the deceased is wrapped and placed upon a shroud bearer. Shrouds should be made of natural fibre such as cotton or wool.
  • Embalming - To speed up the natural processes bodies interred within the natural burial area must not be embalmed or chemically treated. This will also reduce the amount of artificial and toxic chemicals and materials introduced to the soil.
  • Artefacts - Any items placed with the deceased must be made from natural materials and appropriate for our natural burial area. Items made from non-biodegradable materials are not permitted.
  • Plot markers – Only the use of temporary, untreated wooden markers is allowed. These markers should be placed at the time or within the first week of burial, centrally located at the head of the plot. Permanent individual memorials, monuments and associated items must not be placed within our natural burial area. An area may be set aside on the cemetery grounds where a commemorative plaque can be placed. Check with the cemetery office for details.
  • Location of the burial plot – GPS co-ordinates will be recorded at the time of burial. The co-ordinates will be entered into the cemetery register and onto the natural burial area maps.
  • Pre-purchase of burial plots – Burial plots can be pre-purchased in this area of the cemetery, but we will allocate a specific plot, in sequence, at the time of burial.


For more information or to organise a guided tour of the natural burial area at Waikumete Cemetery, please call us on:

0800 4 CEMETERY (0800 423 638).

You can also visit us at:

4128a Great North Road, Glen Eden.