Virtual technology providing the answer for long distance loved ones to mourn

Technology is providing the answer for those wanting to see the graves of their loved ones but live too far away.

Stu Campbell, the information technology manager at Ruapehu District Council, says the concept behind the virtual cemeteries is for people who "can visit the cemetery from anywhere in the world". 

Ruapehu District Council is mapping out its cemeteries using high definition cameras on a drone.

Virtual models will be matched with their records, creating a walk through experience.

"The criteria was that we could get in and read a headstone and really get people the experience of being there," Mr Campbell said.

Some of the graves date back to early European settlement, and with over 10 cemeteries in the Ruapehu District, the council is calling on the public to provide any information or records they may have to create profiles of the deceased.

"Where it goes in the future, who knows? People walking around the cemetery headstones with their phones, maybe they just point it at the headstone and it actually gives them all that information."

Auckland company Digital Memorials has been using a similar method for around one year now, using barcodes embedded on headstones which can be scanned with a smartphone.

"Scanning that code will show you their entire history, their whakapapa, where did they come from," Digital Memorials director Tania Jeffs said.

Tatiana Hotere, a Digital Memorials user, created a profile with photos and video tributes of her husband Jason, who died one year ago.

"My kids will be able to watch it whenever they want and one day, when I have grandchildren, I'll be able to show them their papa that they never met," Ms Hotere said.

The Ruapehu District Council's created a virtual walk through of their cemeteries. Source: 1 NEWS

New Zealand's waste crisis: Five things you need to know

New Zealand is facing a waste crisis, and many towns are struggling with too much rubbish – and nowhere for it to go.

The system we use to deal with our rubbish is broken, and at the heart of it is our love affair with plastic.

Tonight on SUNDAY at 7.30pm on TVNZ1, Jehan Casinader looks at how we tackle this crisis. For now, here’s what you need to know:

1) China doesn't want our rubbish

For years, we've sold much of our plastic waste to China. Recycled plastic helps to power China's lucrative manufacturing industry. But this year, China closed its doors, saying it no longer wants to be a dumping ground for the world's waste. That leaves us with a massive problem: what do we do with our rubbish if other countries don't want it?

2) Recycling is a business

Most of our waste industry is run by private companies that are contracted by local councils. Like any businesses, they need to make a profit. That means some plastics are not worth recycling – especially now that China won't buy them. Other plastics aren't recycled because they are contaminated with food waste.

3) We need to rethink our consumption

Globally, the figures around plastic are astounding. In 1950, just over 2 million tonnes of plastic were produced. Today, it's around 450 million tonnes a year. Most of it doesn't get recycled. Right now, there's enough plastic debris out there to cover New Zealand 10 times over.

4) New Zealand needs a new approach to waste

Our main tool to minimise waste is a levy – a kind of tax on rubbish that goes to the landfill. But at just $10 a tonne, it hasn't worked. Kiwis are throwing out more rubbish than ever before. We need a fresh approach to waste management, involving the Government, businesses and consumers.

5) Plastic isn't all bad news

As National Geographic pointed out earlier this year, "Plastics have transformed all our lives as few other inventions have, mostly for the better". But it's the path we're on with plastic – where so much of it is used just once, then buried in the ground or washed into the ocean – that’s no longer sustainable.

Watch the full story on SUNDAY, 7.30pm tonight, on TVNZ1.

Many towns are struggling with too much rubbish – and nowhere for it to go. Source: Sunday


Roads close in Auckland due to flooding as severe weather lashes parts of country

Heavy rain and strong winds are hitting parts of the country, causing power cuts and closing roads. 

Video sent in by Maraetai local Talauta Mimilo in Auckland showed the sea water lapping the side of the road this morning. 

A Fire and Emergency NZ spokesperson told 1 NEWS they have been called out to several locations in regards to flooding and trees down on Auckland's North Shore.

Severe weather brought down power lines and cut electricity to 77 homes in the Tokatoka area south of Dargaville in the early hours of this morning.

MetService have issued a heavy rain watch that is in place till 3pm today. 

King tides are also forecast for this morning. Coastal areas exposed to the north and east could suffer from inundation by the sea.

Maraetai Foreshore Restaurant preparing for the flooding.
Maraetai Foreshore Restaurant preparing for the flooding. Source: 1 NEWS

Maraetai Foreshore Restaurant preparing for the flooding.
Maraetai Foreshore Restaurant preparing for the flooding. Source: 1 NEWS

The Foreshore Restaurant in Maraetai posted pictures preparing for the bad weather. The restaurant said they are trying to get the council to build the sea wall higher, because they often get flooded.

King tides are also forecast this weekend to compound matters. Source: 1 NEWS

Some roads have closed in Auckland due to flooding, reports NTZA. For more information on road closures, click here

Tauranga's Winter Nights Winter Lights show was cancelled due to the strong wind and heavy rain warnings. 



Northland is expected to get 80 to 110mm of rain with thunderstorms possible until 1pm today.

Auckland from Whangaparoa northwards including Great Barrier Island is expected to get 60 to 90mm of rain with thunderstorms also possible until 2pm today.

Coromandel Peninsula is expected to get 60 to 90mm of rain with thunderstorms possible until 5pm today.

Gisborne should expect 75 to 100mm to accumulate about the ranges, with lesser amounts elsewhere until 4am on Monday.

Heavy rain may cause streams and rivers to rise rapidly. Surface flooding and slips are also possible and driving conditions may be hazardous.


Auckland is forecast for severe easterly gales gusting at 120km/h in exposed places, especially about Great Barrier Island and parts of Auckland south of Manukau until 3pm today.

Coromandel Peninsula, Bay of Plenty from Whakatane westwards and Waikato is forecast for severe easterly gales with damaging gusts of 130km/h in exposed places until 6pm today.

Strong wind gusts could damage trees, powerlines and unsecured structures. Driving may be hazardous, especially for high-sided vehicles and motorcycles.


East to north east winds should pick up clouds increasing from the north.  There is rain developing around Nelson and Marlborough with some patchy falls down the West Coast later in the day or by night.

Mainly dry in the east but patchy rain develops overnight in Canterbury and maybe coastal Otago.  The winds are the lightest in Southland and driest weather too.  Winds ease later today or overnight.  It is the warmest on the West Coast and the coldest around Queenstown.

Maraetai Beach can be seen lapping the road. Source: Supplied