Plastic flowers, windmills causing headaches at some cemeteries

Cemetery visitors have been urged to think about what they’re leaving besides their loved ones’ graves, with loose plastic items becoming an issue at some cemeteries. 

Your playlist will load after this ad

Caretakers are urging families to think about the items they are leaving beside graves. Source: 1 NEWS

"Being able to go to the cemetery and continue to adorn the grave with lots of colour, you know, is an expression of love," Tipene Funerals' Francis Tipene said.

However, the bright and beautiful items are becoming a problem.

Daniel Chrisp, the manager for Porirua's Whenua Tapu Cemetery, said they have a small skip bin which is filled "pretty much every week, often with most of it being flowers".

The plastic flowers are causing the biggest headache, with even a small breeze sending them flying.

"It's a conversation that's happening right across the country for sure," Porirua City Council parks operations manager Mark Hammond said.

The loose items are not just littering cemeteries, however, with plastic flowers and windmills frequently found in surrounding areas, such as waterways.

The Porirua City Council is now asking locals to look at different memento options, including potted plants or heavy items to weigh them down.

“We encourage people to decorate the graves, it's just around how they do it,” Chrisp said.

But Tipene said for some, there's an important cultural reason, particularly in the Pacific Islands. 

"You drive along the Cook Islands or Samoa, Tonga, and you see the graves all there in their home boundaries and they're able to adorn their graves with real flowers," he said. 

"It's not quite the same here, so that frame of mind is, 'well, we can't do it here but let us bring all these plastic flowers and decorate the grave'."

Hammond said while the council "totally acknowledge that there is a cultural element" at play, permanent fixtures and natural flowers should be put into consideration over artificial, plastic adornments.