Auckland Council consulting over NZ's largest cemetery's space issues

Gravestones partially hidden by shadow.
Waikumete Cemetery. Photo credit: File

New Zealand's multi-cultural society is putting pressure on our final resting places.

Auckland Council is exploring other burial and land options as the country's largest cemetery, Waikumete, is running out of room.

The council said there's plenty of space for burials in the north and south of Auckland, but western areas are running out of space as Waikumete fills up.

There's also no area within the cemetery that would allow for development of additional burial plots.

"Waikumete Cemetery is of historical, cultural and ecological significance and we're at a point where development for new burial areas is challenging," councillor Penny Hulse said in a statement.

Shelley Angus from Cemeteries and Crematoria Collective told Newshub cremation is not always an option for some cultures.

"We are seeing a little bit of a change in that, in terms of the cultural diversity, but then there are some certain religions and cultures that are quite stoic in their beliefs, we have to adhere to that."

Waikumete only has around five years left of burial space, and Ms Angus said countries outside New Zealand take a different approach to burials.

"You [can] have a body burial plot that can be dug up within 10 years and then put in catacombs. I'm not sure that we're at that point in New Zealand where we need to consider that."

But she does believe communities need to start having conversations about their options down the line.

"Each community needs to get together with their local authority and discuss what they think is the best way to go. Some areas are more affluent than others so that will determine how things go."