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Natural cemetery planting open day on expanded site

Nov 1st, 2013 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

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WELLINGTON Natural Cemetery is holding a tree planting event this weekend to mark the opening of its expanded site.

Natural Burials founder Mark Blackham said the site is now two hectares but was originally only about a quarter of the size.

The cemetery now has about 90 people buried, making it the largest natural burial site outside of the UK.

A natural burial is free of chemicals and the body is buried less than a metre deep, the ideal depth for decomposition.

Rather than a headstone, a native tree is planted on top of where the body is buried.

This is the first open planting event that the natural cemetery has had and Mr Blackham said he was expecting up to 50 people to come.

“It will give people the chance to come have a look and see how the site has developed,” he said.

The Wellington Natural Cemetery was given the land by the Wellington City Council.

Mr Blackham said it was not hard to obtain the land as the council understood Natural Burials’ vision.

“What got them across was our persistence and the expressions of public demand,” he said.

Jane Harding experienced a natural burial when her husband, Simon Hann died last year.

“I guess it was just more us,” said Harding, explaining the preference for natural burial.

Ms Harding planted a Cabbage tree and has been back to the site a few times.

“I’m looking forward to going this weekend and seeing what’s there,” she said.

Mr Blackham said the new land would sustain the operation for 50 years.

There are 12 types of native tree that can be selected to cover a plot.

Hardy trees, such as the Kowhai and Manuka are used to start off an area and the rest is filled in later with trees that need more protection from the elements.

There are around 90 people buried in Wellington Natural Cemetery but over 1000 native trees planted already.

“The place will fill with trees and it’ll turn into a proper bush, it’ll be lovely,” said Mr Blackham.

Up to 300 native trees will be planted this weekend.

The planting event is on this Sunday from 10.30am onwards.

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is a Whitireia journalism student covering the Mount Cook area in Wellington. He has a BA in Political Science and Media Studies at Victoria University of Wellington.
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