Yes, Diamond Harbour now boasts the first eco-burial site in the greater Christchurch City area.
See below for more information.

Introduction to Eco-burials

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.

There are a number of different terms: “Eco-burial”, “Natural burial”, and “Green burial” that are used to mean different things…

An “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 forest.

A “Green burial” is the term used by the Christchurch City Council for a burial in a designated area within an existing Council cemetery, where most of the Natural burial aspects are included. Note that the CCC Cemeteries Handbook states that Green burials must have a minimum cover of 800mm above the casket, and this is below the living soil layer at the Diamond Harbour Green burial site.

The Diamond Harbour Memorial Gardens Cemetery boasts the first Green burial site in the greater Christchurch area, it has been open since November 2017.

Yaldhurst Cemetery also has a Green burial site, which opened in December 2019. See below (Update 20 December 2019) for more info.

Check out this Blog for the latest news 🙂

Mark Watson      Send email to Mark here


Do you wish to be contacted about future natural burial / green burial sites? Would you like to make suggestions about the design and use of future natural / green burial sites in the Christchurch area?

I will no longer be sending out emails to the contacts that Ann Thornton used to have, because many of the email addresses in that list are no longer active. So if you would like to be kept informed (and to have the opportunity to give suggestions), I recommend you directly contact Christchurch City Council Senior Engagement Advisor Jennie Hamilton. You can call her on 03 941 5207, or email Jennie at



Do you have questions about green burials / natural burials?

Conversations on death and dying are held in the Heathcote Community Centre on the 2nd Saturday of the month 9.30 till 11am. Koha for rental of the venue. All welcome.

If you have questions, these are the people to contact:

John Allen at or 021 365 966 for advice on the process of preparation for a green burial. John can also perform ceremonies and burial events.

Cemeteries Administrator:  or 03 941 8999 for questions about the details of  green burials in the greater Christchurch area, or for pre-booking a plot, or arranging a green burial.

Eric Banks, Senior Network Planner, Parks Unit:  or 03 941 8999, for general enquiries or comments about green burials in CCC cemeteries.

Veronika Gabel or 021 159 6482, or Joy McLeod for general questions or comments about the Diamond Harbour green burials site.

If you have any concerns or questions about the Diamond Harbour green burials site that you would like raised, you can contact the Diamond Harbour Community Association Secretary (Christine) directly:  or alternatively, you can contact Joy McLeod, who is happy to raise the matter at the next DHCA meeting:

Links to other useful websites:    (for natural caskets)

Update 9 October 2020

Planting has been carried out  🙂

The first area of 6 plots at the Diamond Harbour green burial site has been planted out, and it is looking lovely. This is what green burials are all about.

Thanks so much to all the Christchurch City Council team for making this happen.

If you are in the area, it’s definitely worth a visit.



Mark Watson

Update 20 December 2019

Exciting news: more green burial sites for Christchurch

A green burial area has just been opened at Yaldhurst cemetery. This is a much larger area than the Diamond Harbour green burial space, so it will take the pressure off the very popular Diamond Harbour cemetery.

You can pre-book burial space at the Yaldhurst green burial area. This means that you can rest assured that you, and your loved-ones, can be naturally buried at the same cemetery (but not necessarily in adjoining plots, due to the practicality of needing to over-plant once a group of plots have been filled).

But wait, there’s more good news…

Christchurch City Council are planning for a very large new cemetery near Templeton, that would be intended to meet the whole of Christchurch’s needs for the rest of this century! This would include areas to suit people of many different ethnicities and religious backgrounds, as well as green / natural burial areas. 

What would you like for future green burial spaces? The CCC cemeteries team are keen to have input at this very early stage of the process from as many people as possible.

You can have your say here:

This needs to be done by 15th January 2020



Mark Watson

Update 17 June 2019

Diamond Harbour green burial site is filling up!

As of today, 7 of the 12 green burial plots have been filled. That is a great indication that all the work put in by the CCC Cemeteries Team and the Green Burials Group was worthwhile  🙂 

We are hoping that the Council will be able to provide more green burial plots in the Diamond Harbour Cemetery before too long. Feel free to talk to your local council representatives to encourage more money to be made available to the CCC Cemeteries Team so they can make this happen if at all possible.

UPDATE 19 Dec 2019: It is sounding very positive that the number of green burial plots here will be increased somewhat. To gain the ideal number of plots that could be provided at the cemetery though, more funds would be needed to cover the cost of fairly significant earthworks. So, as mentioned above, the more we engage with council representatives on this issue, the higher the chances of a really good outcome  🙂

Here’s a few things to note about Green burials at the Diamond Harbour Cemetery:

There is no pre-purchasing of plots allowed.

The CCC Cemeteries Handbook states that the minimum cover above the casket is to be 800mm. So the casket will be well below the living soil layer at the cemetery: it appears to be in amongst a dense clay layer. If you are contemplating a green burial here, you may wish to talk to the CCC Cemeteries administrator about whether there are any options when re-filling the plot.

For more details about the CCC Green burial requirements, take a look at the Cemeteries Handbook, downloadable from the CCC website, or try this link:



Mark Watson

Update 3 August 2018

Christchurch City Council has just released draft new rules for its cemeteries.

Public comment is open until 3rd September 2018


* 2.8.3 There is no pre-purchasing of plots.

This applies to conventional full burial plots, infant plots, green burial full burial plots and ash plots.

* Memorials: Memorials such as placing headstones on a green burial plot are not permitted.

This is normal practice. However, when the green burial area at Diamond Harbour was being developed it was decided that two bench seats be installed there. At the time the possibility was discussed, if families so wished, that matching memorial plaques could be installed at the families’ expense on the bench seats.

Here are some thoughts about the issue of no pre-purchasing of plots.

Since the green burial area became available in October of 2017 in the Diamond Harbour Cemetery there have been two green burials in the area. In the May prior to that date there were two green burials in the adjacent area of the cemetery. From the period of 1 October 2017 to mid July 2018 there was one conventional burial and two ashes internments in the cemetery.

The green burial site can accommodate 10 more burials with no pre purchasing possible. At the present rate of demand there will soon be no more green burial plots available at Diamond Harbour.

When in 2012 the petition for a green burial site at Diamond Harbour was circulating a significant number of people commented that they would like to be buried in the vicinity of where they had lived.

If one member of a family is buried in a particular cemetery, it is only natural that other close members of that family will very likely want to be buried in the same cemetery.  Especially so in this case, as the other green burial option is over 20 kilometres away.

It does not seem unreasonable to expect relief for such people, in the form of a booking for a yet-to-be determined location within the DH cemetery. This is especially relevant for the green burial plots, because double-plots are not an option. The location could be selected by the sexton such that it causes the fewest issues for future burials and plot over-planting procedures.

Having said that, if provision were made in the Diamond Harbour cemetery for plenty more green burial plots, there would be less concern that close family members might not be able to be buried in the same cemetery, so the issue of not being able to pre-purchase a plot would not be so great.


Mark Watson

Update 16 April 2018.

Green burials are here 🙂

The Diamond Harbour green burial site was opened on 16th November 2017, and is now operational.

Due to the small number of plots available, at this stage plots cannot be pre-booked. We are engaging with the Christchurch City Council over this issue, hoping for a compromise to allow some form of pre-booking in certain circumstances.

Yaldhurst cemetery is next in line to open a green burial site. This is expected to be a significantly larger site, with the ability to pre-book plots.

It is wonderful that after so many years of advocating for eco-burials, it’s now a reality for the people of Christchurch / Banks Peninsula.

Mark Watson

Update 25 September 2017.

Yes! Green burial site will be officially opened on Thursday 16th November

That’s right, there will be a grand opening celebration ceremony for the Diamond Harbour green burial site, at 2pm, Thursday 16th November.

All welcome, we’d love to celebrate this marvelous occasion with you and your friends. It certainly has been a while coming, but the important thing is that it’s actually happening, and it’s happened because you, and people like you have wanted it to happen.

More details about the official opening to be released closer to the time. Check back on this blog, or the November issue of the Diamond Harbour Herald to find out.

Mark Watson

Latest Update on Green Burial Site 24 July 2017

The most recent date for the opening of the green burial site at Diamond Harbour Memorial cemetery is late September, though this may be delayed if wet weather persists.

This development by the Christchurch City Council is unique in the Christchurch/Banks Peninsula area and the first such site to be created. It will provide for the burial in a specially designated area for unembalmed bodies in biodegradable coffins or shrouds with the plots filled with specially prepared soil which will encourage rapid decomposition.

Families of those buried in this area will be able to take part in the planting over the plots of appropriate native trees from a list sympathetic with current planting in the cemetery compiled by the Council. There will also be provision for families to have a permanent memorial installed in the area.

It is not possible to repurchase plots the cost of which until mid 2018 will be the same as for conventional burial plots in the cemetery.

Ann Thornton


Exciting news: things are happening at the Diamond Harbour Cemetery…

23 May, 2017

Yes, there are contractors on site, mostly working on several areas of the existing cemetery, to increase its capacity. But the exciting part is that the works will include a green burial area, with 12 plots and an area of new planting.

The work is planned to be completed by the end of July, subject to the weather. So green burial plots could be available in August, touch wood  🙂

Check this link for a map of the work being done: the green burial area is at the top right. Or wander down to the cemetery, and take a look at a more detailed plan posted on the site office fence in the car park.

DH Cemetery Work plan May2017

Mark Watson


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 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