The Whakatāne District Council’s hunt for suitable land to establish a new cemetery has so far been unsuccessful.
The council announced through local media in March that it was looking for land to buy for a new cemetery and asked landowners to come forward if they had suitable land available.
He estimates that the Whakatāne District Main Cemetery in Hillcrest has room for 550 more burials and expects it to reach full capacity by 2028.
To meet the needs of the community over the next 100 years, the council is ideally looking for 11-17 hectares of mostly flat or hilly land within a 10-15 minute drive of downtown Whakatāne.
“It’s important that the land is not flood-prone and therefore elevated and away from the coast,” says Georgina Fletcher, general manager of community experience.
While Hillcrest is only one of six cemeteries administered by the council, Fletcher sys the others are rural cemeteries, limited in size and further removed from the main population of the district, and therefore not suitable as alternatives once Hillcrest Cemetery has reached capacity.
The new cemetery will also need to provide natural burial options, which were recently offered at Hillcrest.
In a report to the council’s projects and services committee meeting, Fletcher says no suitable new sites have emerged from the publicity exercise and the council is still looking for land options.
With the help of Veros Specialist Land Agents, two interested parties were identified, but further discussions determined that neither option was viable.
The council also considered the possibility of using the council land, which is currently woodland on the corner of Military Road, but following site surveys, in which a number of test pits were dug , it was determined that the land was unsuitable due to water conditions.
Council is now considering what the next options might be to ensure land is acquired for a new cemetery in a timely manner.
Fletcher urges elected members to use their own contacts to research other land options.
She says that in order for the necessary preparatory work to be completed on time, the land must be purchased this year.
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