Contents

Chapter 13
Approval of new cemeteries

Unlawful burial

13.1While the Burial and Cremation Act 1964 (the Act) recognises a range of existing types of cemeteries and burial grounds, it permits only new local authority cemeteries and denominational burial grounds.247 Currently, the Act provides that it is not lawful to bury a body in any land that is not a cemetery, a denominational burial ground, a private burial ground or a Māori burial ground if there is such a place within 32 kilometres of the place of death or place where the body has been taken for burial.248

13.2We consider that the new statute should continue to prohibit burial in places that have not been approved. In theory, the statute could allow cemeteries to be developed without approval on the basis that it also deems such land to be cemetery land and the owners of it are automatically subject to cemetery management obligations. However, there is a strong public interest in the controlled development of cemetery land. Local authorities have legitimate reasons why some land is not suitable for development as a cemetery. We discuss this further below.

13.3Consequently, we propose that the new statute provides that it is an offence to bury a body in any land that is not approved as a cemetery under the statute. We do not think that the distance exception should be continued.249 Instead, we consider that a person should have a defence if they can show that it was impractical to transport the body to an approved cemetery and the body was buried respectfully in another place.

Recommendations

R62It should be an offence to knowingly bury a body in any land that is not an approved cemetery.

R63It should be a defence to this offence if the defendant can show that it was impractical to transport the body to an approved cemetery and the body was buried respectfully in another place.

247Burial and Cremation Act, ss 4 and 31.
248Section 46(1).
249The 32 kilometre exception in s 46(1) was implemented during a time when transportation was less efficient. In the past, a person may have died in an isolated part of New Zealand from which transporting the body was impractical.