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Cremation - "Not On Our Patch" Say the Luvvies of Grahamstown!  

One of the wonderful things about living in a small town is the manner in which rumour cant and hypocrisy gets currency. One such case is alive and well at the moment as a bunch of people in Grahamstown get their knickers in a knot over the supposed installation of a cremator in their neck of the woods – namely at New Zealand’s oldest funeral home – Twentymans.

Quite apart from whether this represents truth or rumour, why should we not have a cremator right here servicing the needs of the entire Peninsula rather than having to cart bodies all the way to Hamilton for the purpose? Twentymans (and I make no secret of my friendship with and respect for Adrian Catran – its proprietor) has led the way with a number of business innovations, and employs six qualified people to conduct funerals and other procedures. It has invested heavily in this town, and Adrian has personally funded a vast number of NGO’s and good causes generally. He has put his energies, along with others into running events such as the annual Christmas Dinner that is provided for the needy and lonely at Christmas.

I for one have no objection, and I cannot imagine why a well-designed and run cremator should not be operated as they are in virtually every other city and large town in the country. People have said that it should be in an industrial area – why those who are in a state of grief should be required to trail down to an industrial area for their final farewells escapes me? Or at Totara Cemetery which contrary to claims by the luvvies is designated a recreation open space with a 10 sq.m limit on buildings. Because of tangata whenua objections, there are few other sites available in or around the town other than ones designated commercial.

Such is the case regarding the building on the Placemakers site opposite Twentymans that has been secured for the purpose of either a cremator, and/or reception area for 160 people, along with appropriate parking. And despite the fanciful objections of several Grahamstown identities, including many who should know better, modern cremators create no smell, dust, smoke of any other objectionable emission that should concern them or any of the business’s that they operate.

To claim otherwise represents a return to the dim dark ages, and a denial of the need for modern methods of body disposal as we run out of space and inclination to bury them in cemeteries. I wonder if all the luvvies are aware that Twentymans already runs a morgue at the rear of their premises - oh dear, what a disgrace - bodies, ugh! Well I have news for the luvvies - it is where we all end up sooner or later!

The rumour machine set in motion the moment certain individuals began raising petitions over the last week, with completely erroneous stories being circulated culminating with awe and alarm spreading like wildfire at and since the Saturday market. The Facebook entries beggar belief and say it all!

The facts were distorted to such an extent that without any one bothering to check with Adrian, complaints were made to Council and the Department of Labour during the week about the removal of a dangerous asbestos roof from the building. In fact all legal and building requirements had been complied with, and a licensed remover employed to undertake the task, now completed. The majority of the building, including the roof is about to be re-clad in colour-steel, and heritage aspects including kauri framing preserved.

The use of the building may or may not be for a cremator and/or reception area which has been long needed in this town for conferences, weddings, and funerals followed by cremation. The cremator will likely go ahead following the obtaining of the only permission required - from the Health Department. Why anyone should object to this escapes me – there are dozens of cremators operating in this country in similar situations close to public facilities including cafes and restaurants.

But somehow we are different – preserve us from do-gooders and petition wavers who have nothing better to do with their time than stir up dissent. Why they imagine that a legal business – i.e undertaking, and cremation should not be allowed to operate in a business designated area just like Ray Cobb's mill is a mystery. The luvvies may care to remind themselves that the demographics of this town (and Peninsula for that matter) are moving inexorably towards increasing demand for this style of disposal - the town has an aging population beyond those who work themselves into a lather at the GBD. 

For the information of all those busy-bodies who are attempting to disrupt Twentymans legitimate business plans, it is my understanding that the Placemakers site has at long last been sold (settlement pending) to Ray Cobb who in turn has sold two sections of the five on the site to Adrian Catran for the purpose set out above. Guru Digital appears to have obtained a further section from whence to operate its business, and Ray Cobb apparently intends to continue operating his mill on another. And it seems that the old stables at the Cochrane St end may have been purchased by another business for the purpose of operating a micro-brewery. All good news for employment and prosperity in this town, and at last, the Placemakers site is in full use. 

I for one look forward to seeing the end result of Adrian’s renovations of the building, and hopefully the installation of the reception facilities, and cremator – if it goes ahead in the face of aggravation so pointlessly generated through irrational ignorance and downright hostility.

I even had a call from the original vendor today stating that she had heard that Adrian intended to install a cremator before 31 March – codswollop! The 31 March date related to the need to get the asbestos roof off before new regulations came into force requiring a further $20,000 outlay. It is just a pity that once again people can’t get their facts right.

People at the Saturday market were circulating a petition along with a bunch of outright lies ostensibly under the auspices of the Grahamstown Business Association. Adrian was unable to attend the particular meeting at which the matter was apparently discussed, but no-one had the guts to approach him to establish the truth of the ‘facts/lies’ they were circulating. And what on earth they imagine a petition will accomplish is moot – there is not to my knowledge a single contrary by-law, or planning approval required to establish such a facility on the site in question.

Such is life in a small town – if it is not lies about fluoride, it is lies about cremation and cremators being circulated at the market by all the usual suspects. Hopefully, common sense will prevail in both cases!    


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Reader Comments (6)

One things for sure, if Adrian restores / builds it, it will look wonderful. His chapel is an asset to the community and I say good on him. He is meeting a need.

March 9, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterGo for it

From my scant knowledge of the modern cremator they must now comply to some fairly strict operating procedures, including I believe, the full EU requirements.
Cremators built in the USA and shipped around the world are monitored by the manufacturing company 24 hours of the day, everyday of the year.
If there is the slightest malfunction they [the manufacturer] correct it immediately or shut the cremator down. Each cremator must run it's own log on various aspects of a cremation and that log must be made available as part of the air quality monitoring. Apparently modern cremator emit no smoke, particulate, or smell and are operated in residential areas throughout the world. 75% of all people who die in NZ are cremated and more and more families want to be present at the time of disposal of their loved one-- so I can understand why a funeral home would wish to have a on-site cremator.
This must be a win win situation for all people and one can only pray that the enterprising person who wants to establish a family orientated cremating facility is not dispised for it, but encouraged to do so

March 9, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRigor mortus

One might have thought, that Grahamstown being the bastion of Thames heritage, and with two heritage businesses that can trace their origins back to the earliest days of the goldfield (being Twentymans and the Junction Hotel) located in Grahamstown, there would have been a more sympathetic attitude toward what ought to be regarded as a progressive move. It will not have escaped passers-by that Twentymans' presents an absolute picture of a heritage complex and that the detail of the buildings has been fairly well carried through into all the recent alterations and additions. Any business that has survived so long in the town is, I would guess, adaptive and resilient - virtues that should be celebrated in todays very difficult trading conditions.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRussell

More power to Twentymens for this proposal, something the area has needed for years, only hope they dont get disheartened by this dishonest criticism

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDennis Hodgson

While I am all for having a crematorium in Thames, I am not convinced that the proposed site is the most appropriate place. It has nothing to do with bodies, health etc, it just seems to be to be disrespectful to both the dead, the grieving and the community. It would be much nicer to have it situated somewhere that can have a park-like setting and provide some quietude for those saying goodbye.

March 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRubes

"....there is not to my knowledge a single contrary by-law, or planning approval required to establish such a facility on the site in question...."

I presume Adrian has sought advice on what if any conset may be required from EW? Air discharge?

March 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

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