Palmerston North council wants limits on grave decorations

Graves in Palmerston North (Newshub.)
Graves in Palmerston North (Newshub.)

Palmerston North City Council will review the way people are allowed to decorate their loved one's graves following complaints about glitter and too much colour on display.

However, it's outraged the parents of two children buried at Kelvin Grove Cemetery.

Marama Watson has been visiting her son's grave for 12 years. Her family takes pride in making it look nice.

"If I can't do that, then what else can we do for our baby that's gone?" she asks.

Her son was stillborn and Ms Watson says it's the first time since he was buried she's heard of rules about decorating graves.

"Which then makes me feel like they have control of what I do with my son's grave," she says.

The council doesn't want control, but it does want to update the rules.

"They're so loose that people are pretty much doing whatever they want," says Palmerston North City Council Mayor Grant Smith.

That's led to about a dozen complaints about some graves being too brightly decorated, so the council is fast-tracking a review of the bylaw.

"We have all sorts of paints, gardens, glitters, colours and just need to tighten up the rules," Mr Smith says.

Mother Julie Hogan disagrees.

"They are a great joy and a great pleasure to a lot of people and a great comfort to me and that's what it's all about," Ms Hogan says.

Her daughter Lucy had epilepsy and died suddenly five years ago.

Under the rules when she was buried, Ms Hogan could only decorate her daughter's grave for a year before returning the plot to lawn.

"I don't think one year is long enough for a lot of people and that's obvious from what you can see here - a lot of these have been in well over a year," she says.

She urged the council to extend it to five years, which agreed to it last reviewed the bylaw in 2013.

As part of this review, the council wants to return to a one-year limit for grave decorations.

The council says the grave decorating also poses operational issues, making it difficult to use a ride on mower to cut the grass and even making it hard to bring in a digger for some new graves.

It will review the bylaw next year, and people will be able to have their say about how and for long they decorate their loved ones' graves.