More green burial sites needed in Diamond Harbour

TOGETHER: Ann Thornton hopes changes to the Cemeteries Bylaw 2013 will allow her and others in the same position to secure eco-burial plots near already buried partners.

Ann Thornton wants to be buried alongside her husband in an environmentally friendly way.

But she is worried Diamond Harbour’s eco-burial site will fill up before her time comes.

The site, the first available for both Banks Peninsula and Christchurch residents, opened in November with 12 plots.

Less than a year later, two plots have been filled and the Green Burials Group has an email list of 70 people interested in eco-burial.

Mrs Thornton has lived in Diamond Harbour for 22 of her 83 years. Her husband of 60 years, Jim, died in October and was the first to be buried at the eco-burial site.

With no pre-purchasing allowed at the site, she fears all the plots will be taken up. “My family are firm they don’t want me to die soon,” she laughed.

“When people ask me and I say I can’t be buried next to Jim, they’re horrified.”

It was like a race she did not want to win, but with a prize she wanted, she said. And the issue will be faced by others in the same situation. She does not mind if her plot is not immediately adjacent to Jim’s, but doesn’t want to be in a completely different cemetery. The only other cemetery with an eco-burial area is Yaldhurst, almost an hour away.

“But that’s a jolly nuisance for my family, you know? Other people are going to be in the same position as me,” Mrs Thornton said.

She hopes the city council will revisit the issue during the current Cemeteries Bylaw 2013 and Handbook review and allow the pre-purchasing of eco-burial plots for those who have partners buried there. She also wants an assurance from the city council that another designated eco-burial site will open in Diamond Harbour in the future.

With the support of the Green Burials Group, Mrs Thornton is encouraging people to submit to the city council on the Bylaw review. Submissions close on Monday.

On behalf of the group, Mrs Thornton recently met with the Banks Peninsula Community Board to ask it to consider the issue in any submissions it makes.