With the lifespan of the Ferry Landing Cemetery almost over, we've started working on building a new cemetery in Mercury Bay. 5.08ha of existing farmland has been purchased on SH25 between Whitianga and Tairua for a new cemetery site. The new cemetery being built off SH25 in Whitianga will be called "Kaimarama Cemetery," while the main internal road servicing the cemetery will be called Kiteroa Place. In March 2017 the Mercury Bay Community Board agreed (subject to iwi approval) to suggestions by locals to the name Kaimarama, as this was the historic name iwi and early settlers of the district used for the area surrounding the cemetery site. Meanwhile the name Kiteroa, means "long view" and is based on the view from the cemetery property back to Whitianga/Mount Maungatawhiri. Stage Two The second phase of developing the new cemetery site at Mercury Bay started in 2017 and involved sealing the main access road, a circular car park, an entranceway and berms for a section of up some burial plots. The new cemetery won't be up and running within the next 12 months, but we need to have it prepared as the existing Ferry Landing cemetery will be reaching capacity for burial sites in the next few years. A memorial forest site is also located here, which remembers the Battle of Passchendaele, where eventually more than 2000 trees will be planted on site. The budget for Stage Two is $487k and will be completed by April 2017. Pre-sales of burial spots at the new cemetery site are not being taken right now Stage One In August 2016 the Mercury Bay Community Board approved a change in the work programme to allow for the construction of Roads 1 and 2, along with an entrance gate. This will provide immediate use of the cemetery and for the remaining areas of development to be staged over the following years In 2015, 35 trees were blessed at the Cemetery as part of our WW1 Memorial Forest Project. At a special commemoration service on ANZAC Day a sign was also unveiled on site, which honours the 35 men from Mercury Bay who gave their lives in the war. Stage One began in August 2013 with the construction of an intersection and better site access to allow for vehicles wanting to turn into the new cemetery. Planting then started along the road border of the new cemetery. Future Development It's expected the new cemetery site won't be needed for several years which gives us time to do all the prepatory work. Once the new cemetery is opened up it has enough land to allow for more than 100 years of burial and cremation sites. Why The Need For a New Cemetery? Sensitive below ground testing conducted at the current cemetery at Ferry Landing has shown that there is more space available for burial and ash plots in the short-term. There had been concerns that the Ferry Landing cemetery had almost reached full capacity. But using a Ground Penetration Radar system to investigate what lies beneath some sections of the cemetery we now know we can provide for extra burial plots for the next couple of years. There are around 10 burials in the cemetery on average each year. Ground Penetration Radar is a sensitive and respectful way of investigating what lies below the ground's surface without having to do any physical work. By sending out electromagnetic pulses GPR technology helps produce cross-sectional images to give a clearer idea if there is anything lying below the earth's surface like tree roots, pipes and large boulders or rocks. It also shows us whether the earth has been disrupted after burials. We understand the need for this all to be done in a respectful and sensitive manner, which is why no physical works will be started until we are 100% certain that the space we are looking at is available and empty and that we have the okay from the right authorities. Because many of the older burial records for the Ferry Landing Cemetery were destroyed by a fire in the old Council building in the 1940s it's been difficult for our staff to get details about the older parts of the cemetery and also what spaces may still be available for burials. Along with the GPR technology, Heather Bruce one of our customer services team in Mercury Bay has researched some of the older burial sites to get a better understanding around the ownership of existing plots. "A lot of our reserved plots only show reservations with an initial and a surname , with no address or date details so I am having to follow up with local knowledge from families, access to wills and whatever documentation is still around," explains Heather. One success was being able to inter the ashes of an elderly lady in the plot of her daughter who died when she was eight-years-old. "This was in the old part of the cemetery, but the family knew where the plot was and it was clearly marked," says Heather. "The surrounding plots were extended family of the elderly lady, so we were able to confirm and place the ashes as requested." Meanwhile six extra burial sites are also being established in the RSA section of the cemetery. Council staff has been working with RSA Veteran Affairs staff in Wellington to allow for the removal of several coprosma plants to make space for six more interment plots. In Garden of Memories Block A of the cemetery we have built a new ash berm in some available free space which will allow for up to 60 more cremation sites. Again this is a short-term provision until the new Mercury Bay Cemetery is available. Project Milestones 2017 - Internal roading to be completed and official naming of the cemetery to be confirmed. 2016 - Internal roading networks starting to be constructed.. 2013 - 2015. Intersection completed along with road access into cemetery site. Planting along front border of the site at road entry and the Cemetery became one of the sites in our NZ WW! Memorial Forest Project. August 2013. Roadworks begin to create a new intersection to allow vehicles to turn safely into the new cemetery site. 2012. 5.08ha of existing farmland purchased on SH25 between Whitianga and Tairua for a new cemetery site.