The New Zealand Cemeteries and Crematoria Collective (NZCCC) recognised industry champions last week at the New Zealand Cemeteries and Crematoria Awards dinner.

maunu cemetery natural

NZCCC awarded Whangārei District Council’s Maunu Cemetery with the 2021 New Zealand Cemeteries and Crematoria Innovation Award. The award recognises the development and operation of Maunu Cemetery’s natural burial area. Due to the environmental benefits, natural burial areas are becoming a popular place for interment around world.

After requests from the public for a natural burial area, Whangārei District Council got to work on making it a reality in Maunu Cemetery’s native forest. To date the area has had five burials take place, including that of Oscar-nominated screenwriter David Stevens, and several plot reservations.

Stephen Jenkins, Maunu Cemetery Manager, said, “The area provides a unique option in a very niche area of the industry…. Everyone who has entered the forest has exclaimed their delight with the area, including funeral directors, celebrants, genealogists, and the general public.”

Other nominees for the 2021 Innovation Award included Porirua City Council for their cemetery native bush walk, and Invercargill City Council and Xyst Ltd for their online interment and booking system.

The Individual Excellence Award was given to Neil Whiteman from Upper Hutt City Council. Neil has been Akatarawa Cemetery’s Sexton for 42 years and despite being past retirement, is still committed to caring and maintaining the grounds.

Neil’s nominator said that he has poured his heart and soul into the cemetery and has shown excellent initiative when it comes to cemetery operation. “[Neil] is personable and knows the community well. He knows many visitors by name and is always happy to talk and support them in their time of grief. Neil has incredible commitment to the industry by his length of service and good work ethic.”

The awards were held as part of the national New Zealand Cemeteries & Crematoria Conference in Rotorua. NZCCC Chair, Hayden Parr, said, “The awards have become a great way for us to recognise the people and facilities showing innovation and achieving excellence within our industry. We are constantly impressed by the work being done and look forward to future developments and innovations in the cemeteries and crematoria space.”

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