Herald on ashes bylaw

June 9th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

Now, the has ventured into this area. As part of a wider bylaw covering cemeteries and crematoriums, it wants to prevent people scattering ashes in any public place – including beaches and parks – unless they have written approval from the council or Wahi Tapu Maori Komiti, a Maori committee overseeing sacred areas. Even people wanting to scatter ashes in a public cemetery would need to fill in approval forms and pay an “applicable” fee to the council.

Predictably enough, the proposal has attracted a storm of protest.

That anger is justified on several grounds. The council documents on the issue provide no detailed background to suggest major problems are arising from the scattering of ashes, either in terms of health or other risk, cultural sensitivities, or the growing extent of the practice. While cremations have become more popular, there are still only about 3000 a year in Auckland, compared with 2200 burials. That is a long way from the situation in Britain, where problems have arisen from the 420,000 cremations annually.

This suggests that, in the main, the council is looking for a solution where no significant problem exists. 

Exactly. And if there is a problem in a couple of discrete areas, then all you need is a couple of signs there asking people not to spread ashes there. What you don’t need is a law requiring you to gain permission to spread ashes anywhere in Auckland – let alone pay a fee for it.

A funeral celebrant described the council’s proposals as “crass”. That is apt. On an issue that demanded subtlety, it has employed a sledgehammer. Its proposal warrants the most rapid of burials.

It seems Wellington City already has such a policy. It should also be scrapped. I imagine almost everyone just ignores it anyway.

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31 Responses to “Herald on ashes bylaw”

  1. contheneo (27 comments) says:

    My grandfathers ashes were spread out by the lighthouse on Ranigtoto, over looking Rangitoto Channel. All we had to do was organise a trip out with the Ports of Auckland chaplain and the Harbour Pilot. My mums ashes were a lot harder. After not being able to find anywhere that fitted to spread them, we buried them in the box they came in, in the back garden and made a little spot that suited her. But that was hard enough. NO where seemed open to it.

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  2. KiwiGreg (3,255 comments) says:

    We scatter our family ashes on land which was originally family land (since 1840) but was subsequently forceably acquired by the ARC as a park. I can’t see us stopping whatever the law is.

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  3. freethinker (691 comments) says:

    The cretins who thought this up should be named and shamed.

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  4. Rich Prick (1,705 comments) says:

    Apart from being plain stupid, how will the Council enforce such a by-law? Ash Wardens on every cliff top and beach? After all, what’s the point of a law that isn’t capable of being enforced.

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  5. anticorruptionnz (215 comments) says:

    Years ago when my parents passed their ashes were scattered in the botanical gardens the only stipulation was that the ashes were dug in to the rose beds as opposed to scattered far and wide.

    When MIL went she had a little hole in the cemetery where her ashes went.

    I guess some people take ” scattering too liberally ” and its also culturally insensitive to others to go to a place in a park and think it has snowed only to realize that your walking all over some ones ashes.

    as with anything consideration perhaps stipulate an acceptable method of scattering as opposed to requiring a permit. .. How would they enforce it any way .

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  6. peterwn (3,273 comments) says:

    “How would they enforce it any way .” – There are so many cameras now that you may be unlucky.

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  7. anticorruptionnz (215 comments) says:

    Perhaps every one could wear black cloaks with hoods .. could start a whole new industry renting those out.

    Hats for the men and black veils for the women as is customary worn by those mourning

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  8. Tarquin North (298 comments) says:

    The real problem is that councils are even thinking about this. Haven’t they got a sewage system to fix or someone at watercare to assassinate for price gouging? Why can’t they just do what they’re elected to do?

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  9. dirty harry (489 comments) says:

    Petty little bureaucrats..take a long walk off a short plank tossers

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  10. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    The Wellington City Council policy seems okay:

    The policy states the following places are unsuitable for scattering and interment activities:
    areas of cultural or heritage significance (eg Māori heritage sites)
    high public use sites (eg sportsfields or botanic gardens)
    sites that have plans for extensive upgrades, renovations or excavations
    unsafe sites (eg steep hillsides).

    Sites that are deemed suitable for scattering or burying ashes, or burying of placentas, are revegetation areas and parks and reserves with low to moderate public use. Karori Cemetery also has a specific ash scattering area. There are no controls on the scattering of ashes at sea.

    The Council also has a commemorative tree scheme where members of the public can bury a placenta, or scatter or bury ashes during the tree planting. There are four sites in the city where commemorative trees can be planted:
    Charles Plimmer Park in Mt Victoria
    Willowbank Park in Tawa
    Karori Cemetery
    Makara Cemetery

    It seems to be largely a matter of common sense and good manners.

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  11. anticorruptionnz (215 comments) says:

    Because there is no money in running the city for the residents , council is not the service it should be it is a tool for the committee for Auckland to use to drive prices on the NZX

    the city is being run by these puppeteers who are making $$ from the stock market , so by making a by law ” thou shall not scatter ashes ” will result in a nice little industry which can go on the NZX , they can all give business to it we pay for it and they profit.

    this is exactly why we are now getting flash board walks, down town area all glitzy. you just need to look at who profits.. its not us the residents .. we turf them out of their houses and sell the land to foreigners .

    not saying the down town hasn’t improved but we cant afford luxuries when our infrastructure is sadly lacking. And we cant just keep putting the rates up we are not a bottomless pit of revenue.

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  12. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    One good thing Slobcom will make a good harbour reclamation, mountain and all!

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  13. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Hutt City, where I live, doesn’t seem to have a policy on scattering ashes, other than to say it is not permitted at cemeteries or council parks.

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  14. dirty harry (489 comments) says:

    “It seems to be largely a matter of common sense and good manners.”

    ..and a koha or two for the brown mafia

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  15. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    If Maori have cultural objection to scattering ashes at particular sites it is unlikely that payment of a koha would make it all right.

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  16. David Garrett (7,292 comments) says:

    Rich Prick:The yanks came up with a term for laws like this during prohibition…a “scofflaw” = a law that everyone scoffs at and no-one obeys.

    This whole “no scattering at Maori sacred sites” really grates with me on a number of levels. Firstly, there appears to be no certainty about where exactly these sacred sites are…they appear to be “where we say they are”. Secondly, what makes them sacred? If they are urupa (burial grounds) that must mean they are sacred because of MAORI interred their God knows how long ago, but it is forbidden to scatter the remains of any pakeha. what’s the logic behind that?

    Mikey, Mikey…although you are a leftie, you are generally fairly sensible. Are you really unaware of cultural objections to this or that melting away when the appropriate koha is made? If you are, you must resolutely avoid all news sites, newspapers and even certain postings on this blog.

    As I have said before when I worked in the oil industry 100 years ago Kaumatua would come out to offshore rigs to “bless” them for a helicopter ride and a slap up lunch. Friends still in the industry tell me the price is now much higher, and has its own little cell on the spreadsheet of the well’s cost. Anyone drilling onshore makes provision for the local iwi by way of a percentage of any oil and gas recovered, which apparently placates any taniwha lurking about the site just nicely. And this is just one industry.

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  17. dirty harry (489 comments) says:

    Fuck maori and their cultural objections..get on the boat with the rest of us ( real ) New Zealanders or fuck off..Im sick of their separatist shit ,” our people ” this and” our people” that..if I want to scatter ashes I will scatter ashes , I couldn’t care less if there’s a maori bone sticking out of the ground..I will decide , not some 2 bit fat kamatua with his greasy hand out.

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  18. David Garrett (7,292 comments) says:

    Dirty Harry’s comment will offend many, but I am certain it won’t be the last like it on this thread. And for that sentiment, that mysterious body “Maoridom” has only itself to blame. The sudden appearance of “sacred sites” all over the show, and the phenomenon of “koha” making problems disappear is a relatively recent phenomenon…certainly over the last 25 years or so – as my story about blessings of oil wells illustrates.

    From the very beginning of European-Maori contact there was entrepreneurship on the part of Maori…from the early trade in tattooed heads “to order” (Chiefs would have their tattoos copied onto a slave’s face, said slave would be dispatched and his head sold to the whaler on his next trip) to the growing of potatoes which hitherto Maori didn’t eat, to the trade in Maori women. Later there were Maori owned schooners which traded around the coast and even to Australia.

    I am sure there ARE some genuine “sacred sites”..but as soon as koha appears to make entry onto such sites OK it is only natural to suspect they are just a cynical way to extract some dosh from the naïve pakeha…and hand wringers like Milky just play into the extractors’ hands.

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  19. JamesBlake (62 comments) says:

    Holy shit DG. You take a blatantly racist statement and acknowledge that it could be offensive and then blame the people who it would be offensive too. Must be the old politition in you.

    Just wondering how this became a hate on Maori thing in the first place? This is council trying to do something stupid. It was probably some white idiot stuffing a suit that added the clause because there is some stupid check list that says you have to mention Maori on every bylaw put together. I mean Len Brown is brown in name only and he is one of the dumbest people in officialdom.

    Can we agree that it is a moronic concil policy and save the racist rants for when there is something that can actually be attributed to Maori?

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  20. mara (787 comments) says:

    Idiotic bylaw to be totally ignored. As for paying a “scattering” fee, HA HA HA HA

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  21. stephieboy (3,109 comments) says:

    The proposed bylaw is a no brainer mainly because it would be totally unenforceable and the public would treat it with the contempt it deservers .

    There are dozens and dozens of sites around Auckland that ashes could be disposed of as is already the case now. it would take an army of nanny state inspectors to police or does the Council have NSA styled 5 eyes surveillance in mind.?

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  22. Elaycee (4,392 comments) says:

    David Garrett is on the money….

    I recall the ‘bridge to nowhere’ (now part of the Auckland / Hamilton expressway) that sat for yonks – because the local iwi said the road leading to it could not be completed because of…… the presence of a taniwha! But by coincidence, some koha alleviated the problem and the road was swiftly constructed / the bridge connected.

    I doubt folk would have an issue with a genuine sacred site remaining intact, but the ‘koha’ gravy train is another matter.

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  23. David Garrett (7,292 comments) says:

    James Blake: I would be interested to know what you think is a “racist rant” in my posting. I suspect it is more that ANY criticism of what “Maori” do or say is now seen as objectionable. Do enlighten me.

    EDIT: On re-reading I see you are referring to an earlier commenters “racist rant” rather than mine.

    As for how the “consult with iwi” bit of stupidity came to be in this bylaw I think you have probably nailed it – some “white idiot stuffing a suit” – as you put it so eloquently – may well have added that bit while following some checklist.

    That though makes the wider question even more important: How exactly did we come to a situation where almost everything has to be the subject of “consultation” with either “Maori” – whatever that all embracing word might mean – or some specific group of them. If we don’t put a stop to this we will all need to “consult Maori” when going for a tramp in the bush, or camping overnight in some place that is supposedly “sacred”. Wasn’t there a suggestion that the all of the Mt Maunganui beaches were “sacred” because bones were found there 100 years ago, and as a result Main Beach would be off limits to all? Or rather all who hadn’t obtained “consent”…

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  24. dirty harry (489 comments) says:

    The rot has set in. Its too late. We must now run everything past our brown overlords. Its disgusting. We should be all as one.

    It will all end in tears and violence..maybe not now , not in 10 years..but it will happen. The festering sore of Aotearoa ( once New Zealand )..BANG !

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  25. David Garrett (7,292 comments) says:

    Dirty Harry: The rot has indeed set in, but I don’t agree “it’s too late”…it will be if enough of us don’t start openly saying – and not anonymously – “this is bullshit and we don’t intend to play along with it.”

    That stand will inevitably attract accusations of racism…we must be prepared to shrug those off if anything is to change.

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  26. dirty harry (489 comments) says:

    Kiwis are too apathetic to care David. The old toad in the pot situation.

    Before long we all will be smothered in brown tape and we wont know it.

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  27. David Garrett (7,292 comments) says:

    Harry: I have considerable fear that you may be right…on the GD thread there is an interesting link to an article in the English Daily Telegraph about the “Islamization” of Britain – how it happened while they were effectively looking the other way, in the direction of the IRA…

    There is also reference to a great metaphor: whether one should deal with “the crocodile near the boat” i.e. Islamic terrorism, or “drain the swamp” – stop the swamp (country) from becoming a haven for crocodiles in the first place. I am an unashamed advocate of draining the swamp. If I was running the show there would not be ONE more immigrant from an Islamic country, no matter what their qualifications, and regardless of how “westernised” they supposedly were.

    With the Muslims we already have here it appears we are racing towards the 2% tipping point anyway because of their higher birth rate.

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  28. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    We will probably see more local bodies attempting to establish some form of regulation over the scattering of ashes due to the recent Burial Review by the Law Commission. For example _

    The Law Society’s 2013 submission to the Burial Review, Law Commission suggested in question 21

    “Do you feel that scattering or burying human ashes in public places is problematic? If so
    what are the most appropriate measures for dealing with this issue?”

    LS answer: … Ashes are the remains of a human being and should be treated with reverence and respect. The lack of guidance and the absence of any restrictions on the disposal of human ashes is particularly insensitive to tikanga Māori, which treats human remains as tapu.

    Some local authorities release policies, plans or guidelines on the scattering of ashes but, as the Commission rightly notes, most local authority bylaws do not deal comprehensively with the scattering of ashes in public places. Where policies are in place, there may be inconsistency between different regions. It can be difficult for those dealing in land in the future to recognise the importance of areas where ashes may have been scattered. This may be culturally offensive and/or upsetting for surviving family members.

    In the Law Society’s view, it would be beneficial to establish a set of national guidelines to ensure consistency as to the disposal of human ashes. These guidelines may also be subject to any local bylaws or regulations….

    I haven’t seen the finished report by the Commission, but if they have adopted the same stance, then such action is probably just a reaction to a review.

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  29. goldnkiwi (1,308 comments) says:

    Actually I think whenua (placentas) are equally a problem, where is the correct place to inter them, if that is your wish. I was on a museum committee when some expansion was proposed. There was an objection to ground being disturbed by someone who had buried a placenta there.

    Surely a marae associated with the person would be better than public land if no private land is owned, but then as an above poster wrote they still scatter ashes on former family land.

    A former neighbour planted a placenta under a tree and then moved on, aren’t the sites sacred? It makes it very difficult to not unintentionally offend anyone. The new neighbours (also Maori) want to remove the tree, I guess I shouldn’t have told them of its roots. Now I do not think they will.

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  30. dirty harry (489 comments) says:

    “the disposal of human ashes is particularly insensitive to tikanga Māori, which treats human remains as tapu.”

    Pity they dont treat the living the same way , especially their children.

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  31. Steve (North Shore) (4,563 comments) says:

    The Auckland Super City Council can kill two birds with one stone here. It is job creation so we will have ashes wardens patrolling at the beaches and on boats to places such as Rangitoto.
    These wardens can also issue instant fines for not wearing life jackets – brilliant! I saved the Ratepayer from employing two hundred wardens when one hundred will do

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