Chapter 11
Problems with the current legislative scheme for burial and cremation

Lack of compliance with current requirements

11.38It appears that certain statutory functions and duties in respect of cemeteries and burial grounds are currently not being fulfilled. For instance, trustee cemeteries must keep full accounts of all money received and expended and prepare these for audit in April each year.198 Compliance with these requirements was reported as sporadic in 1998, and 390 sets of accounts were said to be in arrears for a period of up to 18 years.199 The 2005/2006 report noted an improvement but that “some trustees are still having difficulty”.200

11.39In our trustee cemetery survey, some trustee cemeteries reported that they were unaware of the record-keeping requirement, and others said it was too onerous, especially for volunteers. In other cases, it seems that cemeteries are not adhering to the Act, perhaps because the requirements are perceived as impractical or outdated.

11.40Another example is that it appears that effective use is not being made of the protective mechanisms under the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014. Our local authority survey revealed a large number of cemeteries with archaeological sites that have not been registered on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero. In Auckland, 25 local authority cemeteries contained pre-1900 sites, but only three were registered. The statutory protections apply whether or not a site is registered on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero,201 but some local authorities could not give a good reason for why they had failed to register historical sites. Some said that it inhibited maintenance and upkeep of cemetery plots. Trustee cemeteries also reported having many historical sites but not having registered them.
11.41Finally, there are examples of functions within the ambit of the Ministry of Health that do not appear to be consistently or robustly carried out. For instance, the Ministry of Health policy on inspections of cemeteries states that cemeteries are not routinely inspected but inspections may be required as a result of complaint.202 We have been told that inspections are usually not carried out on a regular basis because of resourcing issues.
198Burial and Cremation Act, s 29.
199Office of the Auditor-General Local Government: results of the 2005/2006 audits (2007) at [4.106].
200At [4.107].
201Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014, s 42(2).
202Ministry of Health, above n 128. See Appendix 7.