Susan Richardson, at Green Park Cemetery yesterday, is
happy about the idea of being buried in her home town, in
the manner she wishes. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Burial should come naturally to Susan Richardson, when
her time comes.
The Dunedin woman is happy about the idea of being buried in
her home town in the manner she wants, after news yesterday
that a natural burial site in Dunedin was one step closer.
''I'm so pleased. A natural burial is written into my will,
and it will be ideal to be buried locally,'' Ms Richardson
In about five minutes and with no debate the Dunedin City
Council's community development committee unanimously
approved a natural burial site plan, saying a final decision
from the committee of the whole later this month should
The site was to be established at the Green Park Cemetery,
near Waldronville, where natural burials would be able to be
carried out from the beginning of next year, after a period
of road and path construction.
Ms Richardson, manager at Kip McGrath's South Dunedin centre,
said she was not ill. Several years ago, after discussions
with her family, she had decided she wanted a natural burial
and had that specified in her will.
''I don't believe in embalming bodies. I don't think it is
necessary in our climate.''
Back when she made her will, Wellington was the only place a
person could have a natural burial. Now, she was ''really
happy'' that she could be buried in Dunedin.
In natural burials, bodies are not embalmed. They are placed
in untreated and biodegradable caskets in shallow graves
close to the surface, within composted soil.
At the Dunedin site, native trees from a list determined by
the council would be planted on top of graves, to eventually
return the burial site to bush.
The method has been advocated as a way to bury people without
using chemicals or polluting the environment.
Ms Richardson was one of 24 submitters on the proposal to
establish a natural burial site and associated natural burial
Other submitters were ''overjoyed'', ''wholeheartedly
supported'' and applauded the council for supporting the
''I've waited a long time for this and will be very happy
when the project is actualised,'' Nancy Earth said.
''I see this as a very good thing to do. I have told my
family that this is what I would like,'' Alexina McKie said.
After 20 submissions requesting it were received during the
2010-11 draft annual plan consultation period, councillors
asked council staff to investigate the idea. An area at the
back of the Green Park Cemetery has been set aside as a
The guidelines say the use of toxic embalming fluids would be
prohibited, natural fibre clothing would be encouraged and
caskets would have to be biodegradable.
Plots would be 2.5m by 2.5m to provide room for grave
plantings, and caskets would be in the active layer of soil,
but at least 750mm from the surface, marked only by selected
plants and, if desired, an untreated timber marker.
The area would be developed as natural bush regeneration,
with the GPS co-ordinates of graves retained by the council.
Natural burial would cost the same as traditional burial, and
costs would be reviewed after at least 10 natural burials or