The concept of a natural burial

In our view, and we hope yours, is that the Wellington and Ōtaki Natural Burial Cemetery are beautiful places. The bush and all its inhabitants, including the people buried here, make it a very special environment indeed.

The unique sense of place has been achieved through a clear guiding concept: the central idea is that everything about the cemetery is as ‘natural’ as possible.

In essence, we will not introduce anything to the cemetery which would interfere with, or pollute, environmental processes.

For example, to help natural processes, plots are dug only into the active soil layer, the deceased are not embalmed and are buried in shrouds or coffins of untreated sustainable wood.

Plots are filled with aerobic, organically active soil, overplanted with a tree native to the area, and the whole cemetery is gradually restored to native bush.

All of the body nutrients and matter will be gradually absorbed by the surrounding soil and plants.
It is intended that the cemetery will become a permanent bush park – a living memorial to those buried there, a home for native flora and fauna, and a beautiful place for family and friends to visit.

No embalming

Bodies buried must not be embalmed. This is to speed up the natural processes of returning the body and its nutrients to the soil, and to reduce the amount of artificial and toxic chemicals and materials we introduce to the soil.


You must use a casket approved by Natural Burials organisation we have a selection of these caskets on our website which you can choose from. These caskets will be made from sustainably grown and harvested woods, with no chemicals or artificial compounds used in treatment of the wood or manufacture of the casket or its accessories.

Plot placement

The bush restoration system means we need to start plots from specific areas. New plots will be placed near newly created ones. So, it will not be possible to choose isolated plots.

Burial in the upper soil layers

The deceased will be buried as close to, or within, the active soil layer as possible. Depth will vary according to the soil conditions. Plots will be part refilled with compost to help enrich the soil.


A native tree will be planted at the head or base of the plot. You can choose from a dozen nursery plants. These trees are the basic building blocks of a native habitat restoration programme. Over time, other trees will be planted over and around the plot. To improve survival, trees for plots will NOT be planted by the Council in summer.

Ash burials

Are not possible in natural burial cemeteries as ashes contain no nutrients.

Artefacts buried with bodies

Please refer to the central concept for a guide on what to include or exclude from caskets. In short, anything artificial would contravene the natural goals of the Cemetery. Only biodegradable items should be placed into the casket. Flowers which are to be buried must not have metal wire, plastic, or floral oasis as part of the arrangement.

Plot markers

A wooden post is sunk into the ground at the head or foot of the plot. You or your family can include on the post cap and sides, a poker-burnt engraved inscription of your choice. The marker is designed not to be permanent, but the plot and details of the person buried there is marked and drawn on a map held by the Council.

Artificial memorials

The central concept is to create an environment which is as natural as possible. Those buried here wanted a natural memorial. It follows that we do not condone placing artificial memorials or other material on the site. These may be removed by the sexton.

We are specialists in allowing families to choose the
best possible way to arrange a natural burial. 


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