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Carterton’s natural burial site

The natural burial site at the Clareville cemetery. PHOTO/CHELSEA BOYLE

By Chelsea Boyle

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For those who want to leave behind a legacy that will grow long after they have died, natural burials will soon be an option in the Clareville Cemetery.

The idea is to place untreated coffins, in shallow graves, and plant a native tree over the plot.

Slowly but surely, the burial site will become a forest to behold.

The option will be open to people come July 1, but has been the result of years of planning.

Carterton District Council parks and reserves manager Brian McWilliams said council was fulfilling a need in the community.

“We often receive requests for natural burials, it is important to us that at this sensitive time in life, all options for burial can be offered.

“We have the space and have planned for natural burials for some time, it’s all coming together.”

During the planning stage Mr McWilliams visited the first natural burial site in New Zealand, Makara, to learn more about them.

But he hoped to come up with something even better for Clareville, he said.

“We picked a site, but that site had lots of old grand-daddy pine trees on it and shelter belts.

“So we cleared all of them down and prepared the ground.”

He also stayed in close contact with Natural Burial Organisation founder Mark Blackham.

Mr Blackham was very helpful, Mr McWilliams said.

“He filled in all the gaps, I filled in all the spaces.”

Mr McWilliams said the only thing he was wary of was making sure it was not mistaken for a shelter belt.

“That’s why I needed a bit more space,” he said.

“People who are into natural burials want everything to be as natural as possible.”

All the trees that will be planted on the graves will be totara.

Wairarapa was a podocarp forest many years ago, Mr McWilliams said.

“We picked totara because totara are in keeping with Wairarapa.”

Mr Blackham will host an information session on Friday June 16, 11.15am, at the Carterton Events Centre for people who want to know more about natural burials.


  1. This sounds great can’t get to meeting sorry but would love results of the meeting sent to me 50 banister street mstn

  2. This sounds awesome.can mstn people be buried there.I was born in Carterton.Has a price been set yet.

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