Natural Burial Parks

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

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 New Zealand we call them natural burial parks, or “green burials”.

Essentially they represent a way of burying our dead which uses the valuable nutrients in the body to establish new growth. They are also a way of remembering our loved ones by creating a sense of permanence in the form of a forest, where people can walk and remember those who are buried there.

It could almost be described as a way to live forever…

Motueka natural burial park

Unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers can be buried in shallower graves in a natural burial park and gradually returned to nature. These parks are located around the country, and will soon be in or near every town and city, offering an environmentally sustainable alternative for those who choose an individual expression of their values, and 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 not only reduce carbon and other pollutive emissions from cremations and concrete manufacture but also to plant trees on or near the graves which will, in time, create natural forest eco-systems supporting New Zealand’s unique flora and fauna.

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.)

Tasman District Council has approved the establishment of three natural burial park areas within its Spring Grove, Motueka and Rototai cemeteries! Motueka and Rototai natural burial parks are now open and the policies, costs and conditions for their use are available directly from TDC. This is excellent news for those of use who have been working, campaigning, lobbying and hoping for many years for this sustainable burial option to be available to Tasman’s residents. Motueka and Rototai have been open for several years now, and we’re still waiting for Spring Grove

Congratulations to TDC for its forward thinking, and special thanks to Beryl Wilkes for her support!

Nelson City Council has now opened a natural burial area within its Marsden Cemetery and is opening one a Wakapuaka soon. New Plymouth, Hamilton, Dunedin and Wellington have also opened one, and others are on their way…

After nine years of Living Legacies’ campaigning natural burial parks are now starting to open up around Aotearoa! Several councils and private landowners 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, please contact:


The Environmental Impact of Funerals