Cost could bury you

Auckland City Harbour News - - Front Page - Turn to P3 By Janie Smith

THE cost of liv­ing is on the rise and now the cost of dy­ing is fol­low­ing suit.

Those hop­ing to be buried in one of the three ceme­ter­ies in the Auck­land isth­mus area will be hit with a 25 per­cent hike in ceme­tery fees.

The Auck­land City Coun­cil’s arts, cul­ture and recre­ation com­mit­tee voted last Wed­nes­day in favour of the in­crease to be brought in over the 2009/2010 fi­nan­cial year.

The three isth­mus coun­cil ceme­ter­ies open for buri­als are Hills­bor­ough, Waikaraka and Otahuhu.

Buy­ing an adult-sized plot costs $1027, with an­other $507 in dig­ging fees.

With the in­crease, the to­tal cost will go up to about $1917.

There are also other costs for fam­i­lies to take into ac­count when bury­ing loved ones.

Be­ing buried on a Satur­day can al­ready add be­tween $195 and $377, a pub­lic hol­i­day burial costs $377 ex­tra and re­open­ing oc­cu­pied plots costs $130.

Those fees will all go up for isth­mus ceme­ter­ies.

The in­crease for plot fees and in­ter­ment will also ap­ply to Wai­heke Is­land ceme­ter­ies, but fees will re­main the same on Great Bar­rier Is­land.

Coun­cil­lor Cathy Casey told the meet­ing she was con­cerned the in­crease is to be ap­plied to all the ceme­ter­ies, when some were “five star” and some were “one star”.

She moved an amend­ment for a 2.6 per­cent price in­crease.

“A 25 per­cent in­crease in the first year is ou­tra­geous in the cur­rent cli­mate. When some­one dies it’s a huge ex­pense,” she said.

She also wanted the coun­cil to spend $100,000 restor­ing the Sy­monds St ceme­tery, which is closed for buri­als, but the amend­ment was lost.

Coun­cil­lor Richard Northey said the rep­u­ta­tion of the coun­cil would be se­verely af­fected by ap­prov­ing the in­crease.

“If rates in­creases of 25 per­cent are not ap­pro­pri­ate, it’s even less ap­pro­pri­ate to put an in­crease on griev­ing fam­i­lies.”

But Fu­neral Direc­tors As­so­ci­a­tion of New Zealand pres­i­dent Neil Lit­tle, who is also the manag­ing di­rec­tor of Davis Fu­neral Ser­vices in Mt Eden, says he doesn’t be­lieve the in­crease will put much ex­tra pres­sure on fam­i­lies.

“Auck­land city ceme­ter­ies are prob­a­bly by far the cheapest and still will be.”

He says a fu­neral without burial fees can cost about $7000 to $8000 and burial is a far more ex­pen­sive op­tion than cre­ma­tion.

Mr Lit­tle says funer­als in­volve more or­gan­i­sa­tion than they used to when he started in the busi­ness 20 years ago and the ma­jor­ity are paid for from the de­ceased per­son’s es­tate.

The coun­cil’s ceme­tery fees will re­main cheaper than those of the North Shore City Coun­cil, which charges $2200 for an adult plot, and Waitakere City Coun­cil, which charges $1950.

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