Auckland will run out of room for graves at two of its three main cemeteries within four years, and will spend up to $46.5 million to acquire and develop land for more burial plots.
A report will be presented to Auckland Council's parks committee when it meets on Tuesday outlining the future demand for burials and storage of ashes.
The report reveals that, based on 2006 Census data, North Shore Memorial Park and Waikumete Cemetery will run out of burial space for bodies by 2019. Manukau Memorial Gardens will run out of space for bodies in 2035.
According to the report, 70 per cent of people in New Zealand favour burial over cremation, but a changing demographic in Auckland will see a shift in preferences.
"The majority of the Asian populations favour cremation, so as the Asian population increases so will the demand for cremations," the report said.
"Auckland also has the biggest Pacific population outside the Pacific Islands. Currently it is a very young population but as [it] grows older over the next 30 to 40 years there will be an increase in demand on cemetery burial services as this group traditionally prefer burial over cremation."
Council regional and specialist parks manager Mace Ward said the purpose of the report was to update elected members on when current cemeteries would reach capacity and what needed to be done to ensure there was space for burials after that.
"We have the opportunity to identify future cemetery sites and the earlier we do that the better we can plan," he said.
"The key issue is we have got a change in ethnic diversity and a change in demand - particularly around cremation and burials. We need to ensure we provide the right services to our community. We provide these services to a third of the country and to a region that is growing and changing the most."
Auckland cemeteries manager Catherine Moore said that under the Burials and Cremations Act 1964, the council had a statutory requirement to ensure there is enough space across the region to provide enough burial space for its population.
It also needed to factor in what the community wanted and needed in its cemeteries, for example, increasingly popular eco-burial areas.
In the draft Long Term Plan 2015-2025, $46.5 million has been set aside for cemeteries.
Of that, $5.5 million will be used to develop unused land at North Shore Memorial Park. The remaining $41 million will be used to extend burial areas at Waikumete Cemetery and to acquire land for a new cemetery in the northwest of the city.
Additional land will also be bought next to the Manukau Memorial Gardens.
• Auckland Council owns 52 cemeteries. The majority of burials are at three regional sites - North Shore Memorial Park, Waikumete Cemetery and Manukau Memorial Gardens.
• Body burial space is projected to run out at North Shore Memorial Park and Waikumete by 2018/19.
• Burial plots for ashes at all three sites will be exhausted by 2018/19.
• $46.5 million has been earmarked to acquire and develop cemetery land over the next 10 years.
• 70 per cent of people in New Zealand favour burial over cremation