About Our Group

A group from Diamond Harbour and the greater Christchurch / Banks Peninsula area have been engaging with the Christchurch City Council for many years, with the overall aim to have Eco Burials as an option for all residents.

The term “Eco-burial” is a general term for burial that is more environmentally friendly than the usual burial process in New Zealand.

A “Natural” burial is an Eco-burial where there is a shallow plot at a depth within the living soil layer, the deceased is not embalmed, is dressed in natural, biodegradable materials, and the coffin or shroud is also biodegradable and non-toxic. Plots are filled with living soil, and within a year are over-planted with native trees and shrubs, so the whole area will eventually resemble regenerated NZ forest.
Currently there are Natural burial sites in the greater Wellington area, in Motueka, and a few other places around NZ, but nothing yet in greater Christchurch.

There is an alternative Eco-burial option emerging in Christchurch/Banks Peninsula. This is a “Green” burial site, where most of the Natural burial aspects are embodied in an area within an existing Council cemetery.

It is  now looking promising for Christchurch’s first Green burial site to be located in the Diamond Harbour Memorial Gardens Cemetery.

Check out this Blog for the latest news 🙂

Mark Watson


Do you want to get involved?

As well as advocating for green burials in the Diamond Harbour Memorial Garden Cemetery, there are members of this group actively promoting the need for Eco-burials in other parts of the greater Christchurch area, including a specially designated Natural burial site for Christchurch/Banks Peninsula.
These are the people to contact for more information:

Emilie Dobinson at   gooddeathguide@gmail.com   concerning a specially designated Natural burial site, and Green burial sites in the Christchurch urban area;

Ann Thornton at   thornton@snap.net.nz   concerning development at the Diamond Harbour Cemetery and arranging for a green burial there;

John Allen at   johnallenzen@hotmail.com   concerning design ideas for Eco-burial sites;  and

Mark Watson at   mark.waipapa@gmail.com   for any other question or suggestions.


Update 10 April 2017


The following is the latest update from the Christchurch City Council on progress towards providing the green burial site in the Diamond Harbour Memorial Gardens Cemetery:

“The development of the cemetery including a Green burials site is being undertaken this current financial year (16/17). At this stage we are expecting the green burial site will be available from this July, subject to contractor progress (and any artefacts that might be discovered during excavation!)”.

Good news indeed!

Ann Thornton


Update 5 December 2016

Sorry, there’s not much to report. This is all that the Christchurch City Council has for us at the moment:

“Still looking at Autumn construction assuming we gain the necessary consent and archaeological authority.”

Best wishes for the upcoming festive season to all readers of this blog  🙂

Mark Watson


Update 5 October 2016

It is wonderful news that Council plans for a green burial site in Diamond harbour Cemetery are starting to come to fruition.

Currently the plan caters for 12 green plots in the Diamond Harbour Cemetery but Council is aware that demand may well indicate the need for this number to be increased. You can assist Council in its forward planning for eco-burial by doing the following:

Email Eric Banks Eric.Banks@ccc.govt.nz to congratulate Council on their current proposal and urging them, in view of contemporary interest in eco-burial, to consider providing further such options while still working towards providing a designated natural burial site for the Christchurch/Banks Peninsula area as a whole.

 Ann Thornton


Meeting with Christchurch City Council 29th August 2016

About half a dozen members of the group met with CCC staff to discuss details of the plan to provide 12 sites for Green burials at Diamond Harbour Cemetery, as well as Eco-burial issues for Christchurch in general.

It was a very productive meeting. We were listened to and we gained more information about Council’s plans for developing the Green burial site in Diamond Harbour. The Council staff are conscious that there will likely be significant demand for further Eco-burial sites both within the Diamond Harbour cemetery, and in the wider Christchurch City area. They are planning on providing  for Natural and Green burials in general “across the region”, ie at established cemeteries as well as eventually providing a designated natural burial site resulting in a substantial block of regenerating native forest.

Work on preparing the soil and planting a framework of native vegetation for the Green burial site in Diamond Harbour will commence soon. CCC staff assured us of their keenness for our ongoing involvement and input into the planning of the site and possibly another Green burial site in the Diamond Harbour Memorial Cemetery.

Mark Watson / Ann Thornton


August 2016 Update

As many Diamond Harbour residents will know, Ann Thornton and her supporters have been working enthusiastically and tirelessly for over 10 years to make it possible to have a natural burial area in our our community.

It now seems, after years of ups and downs, that the Christchurch City Council is in a position to initially develop up to 12 sites for Eco/natural burials within the area of the current Memorial Gardens. The proposal from the Council spelt out some details for providing an eco-burial site… basically it will be for an un-embalmed body in a biodegradable coffin or shroud, buried at a shallow depth in an inspirational environment which includes planting of native vegetation.

At a recent meeting at Ann and Jim’s, attended by over 20 residents and supporters of natural burials, Ann was able to confirm the Council’s positive response to the local campaigning over the years. Given the enthusiasm shown by the people at the meeting for natural burial sites in our area, the demand for such burial sites is likely to surpass the supply of the initial 12 sites. It was unanimously agreed at the meeting to thank the Council for taking this initiative and giving those who campaigned, especially in 2012-13, the opportunity for input into into their current planning process.

There was also a unanimous expression of appreciation to Ann and Jim for all their hard work in keeping this initiative on the front burner, both within our community and also at the Council level. A truly magnificent achievement that would have taken 100’s of hours of researching, campaigning, communicating, and encouraging everyone interested in having a place for natural burials in our community to contribute to the process.
Jim Nieman