Council asked to provide Muslim burial services

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A request for the provision of burial services to meet Muslim requirements has been received by the Gore District Council.

In the council’s community services committee report, council parks and recreation manager Ian Soper said the local body had received an expression of interest from a Muslim community leader in Gore.

“This request is for the council to provide specific burial services to meet Muslim cultural and religious requirements,” Mr Soper said in the report.

Mr Soper said he and Gore Mayor Tracy Hicks had discussed the request.

Council staff were working through the questions and issues the request presented, Mr Soper said.

“Traditional European burial methodology does not align with Muslim culture and practice,” he said.

The council had an obligation to address the request under legislation contained in the Burials and Cremation Act 1964.

Earlier this week, Mr Soper said while he did not believe there would be a big demand for Muslim burials, there would certainly be some demand.

“However, we are now starting to be a more diverse community.”

The council was working through options and how the request could be accommodated in the cemeteries.

The primary difference between the traditional European-style burial and the Muslim equivalent was the orientation of the plot, he said.

“There are some specific parameters.”

However, it was just a matter of accommodating the changes within the existing cemeteries.

Mr Soper planned to talk to other councils that had implemented Muslim burial requirements.

“We may need to have some form of memorandum of understanding with the Muslim community.”

Migrant services co-ordinator Mihaela Erdely said there were between 30 and 40 Muslims living in Eastern Southland.

The majority were halal slaughtermen working at meat processing plants, while others worked on farms, she said.

increase in the number of migrants coming into the region since Mrs Erdely started her job in 2009, a trend backed up by the latest census.

Some migrants had been in the area for several years and had now been joined by family members, she said.

A report is to be compiled and presented to councillors.