In 1983 an amendment was made to Section 15(1) of the Burial and Cremation Act 1964 to allow for the spouse of an eligible veteran to be interred in a Services Cemetery. Section 15(1) of the Act reads:
- Notwithstanding anything in this Act, a local authority may
Set aside permanently a part of any cemetery under its control and management to be used for the burial of the bodies of –
- Persons who have been on operational service in Her Majesty’s Forces;
- The wives or husbands of, or persons who have lived in a relationship in the nature of marriage with, a person who has been on operational service in Her Majesty’s Forces:
There is nothing in this section of the Burial and Cremation Act 1964 to prohibit the spouse/partner of a veteran being buried in a Services Cemetery prior to the burial of the veteran. However, since this amendment was introduced in December 1983, it has been the practice to inter a spouse/partner after the eligible veteran.
This practice has come about because if a spouse/partner is interred first, there is no guarantee that the veteran will be interred in the same plot upon the veteran’s subsequent death. Personal circumstances do change in that the veteran may move away from the area, enter into a new relationship, or for some other reason never end up being interred with the spouse in the Services Cemetery. These changes in circumstances result in a spouse/partner occupying a plot, which was set aside for an eligible veteran.
Legal responsibility for the management of Services Cemeteries rests with the cemetery authorities, not Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand. Individual cemetery authorities can set by-laws and many cemetery authorities have by-laws specifically for Services Cemeteries. Through those by-laws, cemetery authorities can ensure that custom and practice is adhered to. If you have queries relating to the by-laws that operate in your local Services Cemetery, then you should contact your local cemetery authority.
For any questions regarding the eligibility of a veteran or a veteran’s spouse/partner, please contact Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand toll free on 0800 483 8372.