Bretheren not so exclusive

Sun Live, New Zealand/August 24, 2010

Exclusive by name, but not by nature, the bodies of former members of the Exclusive Bretheren sect will now lie in Tauranga graves alongside all other citizens.

The Exclusive Bretheren's request for their dead to be buried in an exclusive section of the cemetery came to light in discussion on the council's draft policy on burial areas.

The policy is in response to a request from the city's growing Muslim community for an area at the Pyes Pa cemetery where they can be buried according to their protocols.

The Pyes Pa cemetery grave sites lie east/west, but Muslims are buried lying on their right sides, facing Mecca. The policy is in response to that request.

Tauranga City Council cemeteries are generally non-denominational with burial plots allocated on an as-required basis.

The new policy recommended for approval by the council's strategy and policy committee allows for exclusive burial areas for a religious/cultural/ethnic group that has specific burial protocols that cannot be accommodated within the general management of the cemetery - a policy that excludes a special area for Exclusive Bretheren.

Tauranga has historically operated denominational cemeteries for Anglicans, Catholics, Methodists, Mormans and Presbyterians. They are still in use though no new plots are available.

The policy was arrived at after discussion with funeral directors, ministers, the multicultural council, the muslim association and the Tauranga Moana Tangata Whenua collective.

Mayor Stuart Crosby says the Maori request for an exclusive burial area should be discussed further to work out what the issues are.

Strategic policy analyst Debra Langton says Maori have requested a burial area for 'urban Maori'.

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