In the Herald today:
Bid to limit scatter of ashes
Bereaved will need okay from council and Maori to use any public place — and pay.
Plans to make grieving families apply for permission to scatter their loved ones' ashes in public have been labelled crass and insensitive.
As part of a wider bylaw covering cemeteries and crematoria, Auckland Council wants to prevent people from scattering ashes in any public place - including beaches and reserves - unless they have written approval from the council or Wahi Tapu Maori Kimiti (a Maori committee that oversees sacred areas).
Even people wanting to scatter the ashes in a public cemetery would need to fill in forms for approval and pay "applicable fees" to the council.
The proposal, which could come into effect as early as November, has angered many people who feel the act doesn't harm anyone and often helps grieving families to find closure by honouring a loved one's final wish.
The Funeral Directors' Association says such a move will have an significant impact.
"Scattering is an important part of the grieving process and for many it is a saying of 'goodbye'," said chief executive Katrina Shanks. "It's a private thing that people do in their own time.
"It will affect the many families who wish to discreetly deposit the ashes at a favourite place.
"Also, Hindu families often wish to scatter ashes in the sea within 24 hours of cremation. How do you get prior written approval for that in 24 hours? This would make that problematic."
Ms Shanks said the association wants the council to specify how consent would be sought and approved, and who would monitor and police any breaches.
Instead of bringing in a bylaw that tells people to get consent, she said, the council should be finding a bylaw that fits what people are doing.
Other proposed changes were also insensitive to the cultural, religious and social needs of families and were too restrictive, said Ms Shanks.
The proposal is deeply offensive to our increasingly multi-cultural society and needs to be stamped on sooner rather than later. It is unworkable as a by-law and will simply lead to resentment and people flouting the law. Bad laws lead to bad outcomes.