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Eight years on from initial planning and public consultation, Ashburton's new cemetery on Seafield Road has now finished construction and yesterday it was blessed and officially opened.
Tewera King, upoko of Te Runanga o Arowhenua led a karakia with Mayor Neil Brown yesterday afternoon to bless the new facility, where they were joined by Ashburton District Councillors, Council Chief Executive Hamish Riach, staff and representatives from the contractor, Ashburton Contracting Ltd (ACL) and consultant Davis Olgilvie.
Pictured (left to right): Morris Kleinjan (Davis Ogilvie), Cr Angus McKay, Tim Bain (ACL), Cr Stuart Wilson, Barry Hayman (Patersons Funerals), Hamish Riach (ADC), Cr Carolyn Cameron, Cr Lynette Lovette, Cr Diane Rawlinson, Tewera King (Te Runanga o Arowhenua), Deputy Mayor Liz McMillan, Neil McCann (ADC), Cr Leen Braam, Mayor Neil Brown and Steve Fabish (ADC).
Speaking at the newly constructed site, Mayor Brown said the project had transformed the area alongside the original cemetery into a place that would provide for the town's burial needs for the next 30 to 40 years.
"I wish to thank everybody who has brought this unique and once-in-a-lifetime project together. At a cost of $1.5 million, this cemetery is a critical and well considered investment in the needs of our growing and increasingly culturally diverse community.
"As well as providing conventional burial plots, it also provides for a variety of burial options that weren't previously available in our district including a Muslim burial area, a natural burial area and an ashes scattering garden."
Work to build the new cemetery extension began in February 2019 after the construction tender was awarded to ACL. The brief was to develop 5.6 hectares of Council-owned land adjacent to the eastern end of the original cemetery, which had been approaching full capacity.
The extension features more than 1,300 conventional burial plots and almost 700 conventional ashes plots in addition to the natural burial and ashes scattering garden areas.
Concept plans were developed in 2012, followed by public consultation in 2013 and resource consent approval in 2017.
ACL Chief Executive, Gary Casey said the project had been one of the more unique ones the contractor had undertaken.
"We'd built roads and bridges before, but getting the chance to build a cemetery is something that doesn't come around very often.
"Our team are very proud to have been a part of this important project. Not only does this cemetery cater for more culturally diverse remembrance needs, but it has been specially designed with contingency in mind so that it can adapt if particular burial options fall in and out of favour in the years to come.”
ACL installed internal roads, burial and ashes beams, water reticulation systems and stormwater reticulation including soak pits, as well as widened Seafield Road to improve access and safety into the cemetery. Their sub-contractor, father and son team Murray and Tawny Wagstaff completed the impressive hand-built stone entranceway.
Vehicle access to the cemetery will be restricted to between the hours of 8.00am and 5.30pm during winter and between 7.30am and 7.30pm in the summer months.
Burial plots at the site are now available for pre-purchase by contacting the Council on 03 307 7700 or emailing email@example.com.