Living legacies

Natural Burial Parks

Natural Burial Parks

Natural Burial Parks are the only sustainable way to dispose of our dead in Aotearoa.

Less pollutive than cremation and not wasting valuable land like cemeteries, natural burial parks create forests from burial grounds. In Britain, these are often called ‘Woodland Burials’ and in the USA, ‘Memorial Nature Preserves’. (See our Linking Legacies page for more information.) In Aotearoa we call them natural burial parks.
Essentially, they represent a natural way of burying our dead, which uses the valuable nutrients in the body to establish new life. They are also a way of remembering our loved ones by creating a sense of permanence in the form of a forest or park, where people can walk and remember those who are buried there. It could almost be described as a way to live forever…

Unembalmed bodies in a biodegradable container can be buried in a natural burial park and gradually return to nature. These parks are located around the country, and will become available in every town and city. These natural burial parks provide an environmentally sustainable alternative for those who choose an individual expression of their values and for those who don’t want to be cremated or buried in a council-run cemetery with a concrete tombstone to mark their grave.

Natural Burial Parks offer a way to create a living legacy by reducing waste and planting trees on or near the graves, which will, in time, become beautiful forest ecosystems supporting New Zealand’s unique flora and fauna.
A Study of Britain’s natural burial parks
In 2007 Lynda Hannah won a Winston Churchill Memorial Fellowship to travel to Britain to research natural burials. She wrote an extensive report on her findings which is available here (It may take a few minutes to download, depending on your internet speed. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader, available here.)​

Motueka Natural Burial Park opened in 2010, Takaka’s, at Rototai Cemetery, opened in 2012, and Spring Grove’s in 2019. This was a result of the actions of those who had been working, campaigning, lobbying and hoping for many years for this sustainable burial option to be available to Tasman’s residents, with special thanks to TDC’s Beryl Wilkes for her support.

Nelson City Council has also opened Natural Burial Parks within its Wakapuaka and Marsden Cemeteries, and many other councils and private landowners around Aotearoa are increasingly interested in providing this sustainable option for their communities, and it needs to be available to all. If you would like to lend your support to establishing them or find out more, please contact: