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High costs of cemetery plots causing Pasifika to send loved ones to the islands for burial

The high cost of a cemetery plot in Auckland is one of the reasons driving up an increasing number of Pasifika sending their deceased loved ones to the islands for burial.

The Cook Islands government is concerned about the huge amount of land taken up by increasing repatriations. Source: 1 NEWS

In the three year period to 2016, the numbers rose by 36 percent from 185 to 252.

Around half were to the Pacific with the Cook Islands and Samoa taking the top two spots.

Funeral director Faapo Ligaliga from Ligaliga Funeral Services in Mangere says every year cemetery costs in Auckland are rising. The average price for a cemetery plot alone is around $5,500.

"Freightwise its a lot cheaper to repatriate loved ones to the islands for burial even though there are added costs when families accompany funerals but for most of our people they're better off to carry it out," he said.

But for Pasifika it's less about the cost and more about connection with the land and family back in the islands.

In the last three years there's been 98 repatriations to Rarotonga increasing by 19 per cent.

Robert Muriwai from South Auckland Funeral Services says he has been approached by the Cook Islands government which is worried about the increasing number.

"They are expressing a concern about the number of people going back to the Cook Islands and the huge amount of land that's taken up…they want to look at getting a cremation service over there ..so we are looking at a joint venture."

Mr Muriwai said a cremation business will cost around $200,000 and on his next trip back to Rarotonga he will be having a government meeting to discuss the proposal in greater detail.