Whenua Tapu chapel refresh and crematorium upgrade

Whenua Tapu's crematorium and chapel upgrade project was completed in 2021.

The upgrade included:

  • Earthquake strengthening
  • New roof
  • Asbestos remediation
  • Painting and other improvements to the family area and bathrooms
  • New cremator

Here is the press release that went out after the official re-opening in November 2021:

Whenua Tapu chapel and crematorium in Porirua has re-opened to the community after a significant refresh and earthquake strengthening.

The chapel, originally opened in 1982, was closed in February to allow work on a new roof, asbestos remediation, a new family area including kitchen and upgraded bathrooms, and new flooring.

The cremator, meanwhile, had reached the end of its life and its consent expired in June. A new one was purpose-built, shipped from Australia, and a crane was used to put it in place this August.

As part of the project, which cost more than $2 million, plaques at the front of the chapel were removed and safely stored, while the Remembrance Book assumed a temporary spot at Porirua Library.

Both have been returned to the chapel, with the plaques lovingly given a spruce up and placed back on the outside of the chapel wall.

“It is brilliant to see those plaques back to their former glory and I’m sure the families will appreciate this gesture for their loved ones,” said Porirua Mayor Anita Baker.

“This refresh of the chapel, new cremator and plaques is something our community can be immensely proud of, and this facility is now fit for purpose for many, many years to come.

“Whenua Tapu has always been a special place and now we have a chapel that is bright and welcoming to come into for families and friends to farewell loved ones.

“It’s a wonderful project to see completed because we know what this place means to so many people.”

The refresh commenced in 2018, with the budget allocated in the Long-term Plan 2018-38 and public feedback sought in 2019.

Whenua Tapu Cemetery remained open during the construction work, allowing visitors to continue to visit loved ones, while alternative arrangements were made with funeral directors for funerals and cremations elsewhere in the region.

On Monday 8 November an official ceremony and blessing was carried out to re-open the facility.

Photos from the opening below.

whenua tapu 2.jpg
whenua tapu1.jpg


Whenua Tapu crematorium is the only service of its kind in Porirua City, providing around 385 cremations each year. It is among the most affordable services of its kind in the region and offers services to Porirua residents and those from further afield. The chapel provides space for up to 150 people to attend a funeral. The crematorium and chapel are located in Whenua Tapu Cemetery, Porirua’s main burial and cremation site, which is one of three cemeteries operated by the Council.

The crematorium was built in 1982. The cremator has reached the end of its useful life and in 2018 the Council committed to replace it in the Long-term Plan. Further assessments have shown the roof of the crematorium is in poor condition. The chapel no longer meets the needs of its users and the buildings require earthquake strengthening, asbestos treatment and new public toilets to meet the building code. The crematorium work area requires improvements.

The Council is not required to operate a crematorium. However, the Council has decided it is important to continue to provide a reliable and affordable cremation service to the people of Porirua. The population is growing and changing, and the need for cremation facilities is growing. Without a crematorium in Porirua, local people would need to use cremation services in the wider Wellington region, involving additional costs including travel. Cremation is also better for the environment and requires less land than burial services.

Whenua Tapu cemetery and crematorium are a source of revenue for Porirua City. They generate about $560,000 net income per year, of which $180,000 comes from crematorium services. Taking account of overheads, the services currently break even.

The existing cremator is operating at capacity, with about 385 cremations a year. An upgrade of the cremator will mean it can manage 1000 cremations a year, generating about $500,000 a year when operating at capacity. It is expected that the cremator would reach capacity 10 to 15 years from now.