4 Sep 2023

Water cremation facility poised to open in Christchurch

From Nine To Noon, 9:20 am on 4 September 2023
Water cremation tanks.

Water cremation tanks. Photo: Water Cremation Aotearoa

A Christchurch-based group plans to introduce a new, sustainable method of cremations to New Zealand. Alkaline Hydrolysis, or 'water cremation', is where a body is put into a tube containing 95 percent water and five percent alkaline, and heated up and pressurised for three to four hours. The remains are then given back to the relatives, similar to a cremation by fire, while the water is treated and put back into the water cycle.

It's touted as an environmentally friendly option to cremation by fire, which as well as releasing six times more CO2 into the atmosphere, can stink out nearby neighbourhoods.

Alkaline Hydrolysis is not currently legal in New Zealand, however Water Cremation Aotearoa has obtained resource consent for a site in Christchurch, and is working with the Ministry of Health to overhaul the Burial and Cremation Act of 1964.

Director Deborah Richards speaks with Kathryn Ryan.