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Cemetery Plans for Mercury Bay

20 March 2013

Sensitive below ground testing conducted at the Ferry Landing Cemetery has shown that there is only limited 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. By using a Ground Penetration Radar system to investigate what lies beneath some sections of the cemetery we now know we can only 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," says Mercury Bay Area Manager Sam Marshall.

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 been doing research into some 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.

Plans For New Cemetery

With the lifespan of the Ferry Landing Cemetery almost over, our Council has already started working on building a new cemetery.

5.08ha of existing farmland has been purchased on SH25 between Whitianga and Tairua for a new cemetery site.

Stage One will begin in early August 2013 with the construction of an intersection and better site access to allow for vehicles wanting to turn into the new cemetery.

The first lot of trees have been ordered and will be planted along the road border of the new cemetery site to act as a buffer. It's expected that the new cemetery site won't be needed for several years yet, which gives Council time to do the initial preparation work.

Once the new cemetery is opened up it has enough land to allow for more than 150 years of burial and cremation sites.

Check Out Our Cemetery Database

You can look at maps and access the database of all the cemeteries in our district by clicking here.

Down the bottom of this page under the map of the district, click on the dropbox to select the cemetery you are looking for.

This web page also includes a database for each cemetery which has been compiled by transferring information from district registers and books.