A placenta burial garden is likely to be established at Henley Lake in Masterton.

Approval is being sought to set aside a suitable area at the lake for the burial garden and Masterton District Council's Policy and Finance Committee is expected to give the idea the green light when it meets later today.

It already has the support of the council's Parks and Open Spaces task group and, if it comes to fruition, the placenta burial garden would be only the second to be established by a council in New Zealand, the first being in Nelson.

Last October Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson was approached by the daughter of midwife Carole Wheeler inquiring about a space or garden for people to bury placentas.


The midwife had seen families being given placentas in plastic pots or bags and decided to make biodegradable ipu whenua baskets offered free of charge to every birthing woman in Wairarapa.

So far she has made over 1000 to be given away, being funded by the district health board's Maori Health Directorate.

A burial garden would give families a meaningful area to inter placenta, a place to make future visits and allow the burying of placenta in a "natural and environmentally friendly way".

It is proposed to hold a burial ceremony once a year with landscaping done instead of planting a tree with each placenta. This would avoid emotional upset if trees became damaged or diseased.

As the proposed garden has not been allowed for as a budgeted item, it would need to go through the Annual Plan process with the yearly costs estimated at $5000 with extra money needed for advertising the annual burial day.

The council's community facilities manager Andrea Jackson said GPS co-ordinates would be recorded for the designated area "to protect future plantings" and that the burial area would not be regarded as a memorial garden.

"There will be no memorial plaques or anything similar allowed in the garden, it is important that the area would not be similar to a cemetery," she said

Once a yearly planting was done that area would be closed to future plantings, meaning it would not be possible to plant siblings together.

In Nelson the city council created a burial site on Botanical Hill in 2008 and about 60 families bury placenta each year.