Cemetery FAQs

Thames' Totara Cemetery

If you can’t find the answer to your question below, contact our Customer Services team at customer.services@tcdc.govt.nz or 07 868 0200

Burial and Burial Rights

What does “rights to burial” or “burial rights” mean?

When you purchase a plot, you are granted the rights to either use the plot for your own burial or to give permission for someone else to be buried in the plot. For more information, visit tcdc.govt.nz/burial.

How do I purchase a plot?

Our Customer Services team can help you purchase a burial plot. Once you have paid for a plot a Plot Reservation Certificate will be issued. This is an important legal document. It is recommended you provide a copy to your lawyer and to other family members, so they are aware you have purchased the rights to a plot. Find the application form to purchase a plot at tcdc.govt.nz/cemeteryforms.

Does my family gain right to burial in a plot I have purchased?

Once you pass away and are buried in the plot, your rights to burial do not pass to anyone else and plots do not become “family’ plots as a right.

If others want to be buried in the same plot they will have to provide evidence of having rights of burial. Usually by way of being the Executor/s of the original plot purchaser or having inherited the rights to use the plot.

If evidence cannot be supplied Council may consider requests to inter provided all living close family members agree. Close family consist of grandparents, parents, siblings, children, spouses, civil union partners, or de facto partners.

Do you have special plots for returned veterans?

Yes, at all open cemeteries except Colville and Omahu. Anyone who has served in a recognised conflict situation is eligible for a Returned Services plot and double burials allow a spouse or partner of the deceased to be buried in the same plot. A standard ex-service memorial plaque is available at a subsidised rate through Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand. Talk to our Customer Services team about funding memorials or go to Veterans Affairs website.

Can I reserve a plot?

For capacity reasons, pre-sales of burial plots are not allowed at the Mercury Bay, Buffalo and Colville cemeteries. Please contact our Customer Services team for queries on pre-sales at our other cemeteries. Council reserves the right to restrict pre-purchase of plots at any cemetery at any time if necessary.

How long do my rights to use the plot exist for?

Rights to burial last for 60 years from the time the plot is paid for. If after 60 years Council has not received any request to extend the rights and the plot remains unused the rights will lapse, and Council may choose to make the plot available again. You may approach Council to extend the burial rights if you still wish to use the plot in the future, a charge may apply to do this.

Can I transfer or sell my burial plot to someone else before use?

The rights of burial may be transferred to a close family member/s but are unable to be on sold to another party. You can do this by completing the Application to Transfer Ownership or Change Rights of Burial form found at tcdc.govt.nz/cemeteryforms

Can I sell my burial rights back to Council?

Yes – Council will refund the price that was paid at the time of purchase. Your rights to use the plot will no longer exist and the plot may be made available again for purchase. You can do this by completing the Application to cancel a reserved plot or sell a plot back to Council form at tcdc.govt.nz/cemeteryforms

Can I scatter ashes at the cemetery?

At present, you may scatter ashes at two of our cemeteries.Totara Memorial Park in Thames and Buffalo Cemetery in Coromandel. There is no charge to do this but an application to inter form should be filled out if you would like Council to record this. You can find this form at tcdc.govt.nz/cemeteryforms.

Can I reserve a plot in a natural burial area?

Yes – plots are allocated on the next available basis. Because of this, you are unable to choose a specific plot. Find the application form at tcdc.govt.nz/cemeteryforms

Do I have to pay an out of district fee to be buried?

Out of district fees may be waived in the following circumstances:

-  If the deceased lived within the Thames-Coromandel District area for at least 12 months prior to passing away

-  If the deceased lived in the Thames-Coromandel District area for a continuous period of at least 10 years in their lifetime

- If the deceased was a ratepayer in the Thames-Coromandel District area.

Plot and Memorial

Do I own the piece of land of my plot?

No – this is not like a piece of real estate; what you are purchasing is the right to be buried in the plot or to say who else may be interred in that plot.

Who is responsible for the upkeep of a plot once purchased?

Relatives or designated representatives are responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the memorial. We are responsible for mowing lawns and general cemetery maintenance.

Can I leave flowers on a grave?

Flowers can be left on grave mounds at lawn plots for up to two weeks after which the mound is levelled and sown in grass (dependant on weather conditions). After this grassed areas must be free of obstructions for mowing purposes, future interments and to allow ground settling to occur at any newly dug graves nearby.

Can I leave sentimental items on a grave?

Sentimental items must be confined to the base of the headstone and items must not include ceramic or glass of any kind. If broken, it is not only upsetting to next of kin but dangerous to visitors to the cemetery as well as contract staff carrying out their duties.

How do I buy a head stone?

A monumental mason can help you decide on a suitable memorial and can explain the rules that apply. A headstone permit must be obtained from Council and any other cemetery fees paid in full before installation. More information is available at tcdc.govt.nz/memorialoptions

Can I build a fence or structure around the grave site?

No - you cannot build fences, structures, or place shell, rocks, landscaping timber or other material on lawn plots. Items on lawn plots create issues when maintenance is carried out and need to be removed when other burials take place. Over time, they can fall into a state of disrepair and pose safety risks to visitors and contract staff.

 

Burial and Disinterment

Can I organize a burial without a funeral director?

Yes – but it important that you contact Council first. You need to provide at least 3 working days’ notice before the planned date of interment and all relevant application forms need to be completed. You can find these forms at tcdc.govt.nz/cemeteryforms. One point of contact must be nominated for our contract staff to communicate with on the day of burial.

What is the process for disinterment?

An application to disinter must be made to the Ministry of Health and a Licence to Disinter Issued before any Council involvement occurs. More information is contained in the Burial and Cremation Act 1964 – sections 51 and 55, and you are welcome to contact Council for further details.

Can I be buried on my private property?

Burial on private land is restricted by the Burial and Cremation Act 1964. It can be a complex process and take some time to gain approval as consent is usually required from the Ministry of Health and the Council. Refer to Sections 46, 47 & 48 of the Burial and Cremation Act for more information.

Miscellaneous FAQ

Is filming allowed at cemeteries?

If you want to film a service at a cemetery you should seek permission from family and the funeral director. For any other filming please contact Council at communcations@tcdc.govt.nz

Does Council pay for vandalism or theft of memorials?

Council is not responsible for private property in public places – this includes headstones or memorials. Any costs associated with vandalism and theft rests with family.