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Dissolving the deceased in water is a far more environmentally sustainable way of caring for the bodies of our loved ones, than the process of flame cremation or burial.
That from the company planning to introduce water cremation to New Zealanders.
Water Cremation Aotearoa New Zealand spokesperson Debbie Richards, says the process, also called Alkaline Hydrolysis, is not currently an option in New Zealand however there’s an opportunity to introduce water cremation as an option here, after the Law Commission recommended changes to the Cremation Regulations Act 1973.
“The changes allow for different ways for us to manage the death of a loved one and the choices around where their body ends up,” she says. “Water cremation has massive environmental benefits but also we would like the recycled water that is left at the end of the process, to go back into the land, in a place that family (and others) can visit and enjoy.”
Richards is talking about a native forest or plantings onto which the recycled water can be used and possibly surrounded by a bird sanctuary. She is in the early stages of discussions with Ngāi Tahu as she says it’s essential to recognise Tangata Whenua as Kaitiaki of the land, something that is so important to all of us.
Although it is currently not legal or illegal to carry out water cremation in New Zealand, with the recent changes suggested by the law commission, Richards thinks it will be an option in the next couple of years.
“As a society focused on environmental sustainability, and of course climate change is a major concern, providing an option for families that puts something positive back into the land, has to be a good thing,” she says.
Water Cremation Aotearoa New Zealand is planning to bring a Resomator machine into the country; a pressurised chamber that dissolves a body over a period of between three to four hours leaving a liquid and porous bones which can be crushed and provided to a family should they wish to have a physical memento of their loved one.
“I visited the US and the UK late last year where these machines have been developed, to see them working,” says Richards. “We believe this is truly the way of the future,” she says.
Note: Debbie Richards is based in Christchurch