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Whenua Tapu chapel refresh and crematorium upgrade

In 2021, Whenua Tapu’s chapel and crematorium will be upgraded. This treasured community asset was built in 1982 and has had very little done to it since.

The upgrade includes:

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

The work, which will cost $2.1 million, is expected to begin in February/March and take six months. It was budgeted through Council’s Long-term Plan.

The memorial plaques outside the chapel will be securely and safely stored during the construction work, while the Remembrance Book will be relocated to the main Porirua Library.

On this page we will provide updates, and photographs, as the project goes forward.


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.