Support for burials at sea

Monday February 11, 2019 Published in Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

I wish to refer to the Clerk of the House of Ariki’s comments on TV where he says the House of Ariki disapproves of burials at sea because it goes against Cook Islands custom and that government should move to block this by legislation.

Even cultural beliefs in the Cook Islands can change and adapt to the times. Many cultures have been burying people at sea since time immemorial. Navies around the world still do it to honour their dead. A dead body is weighted down and sinks to the bottom of the ocean; eventually it will be consumed by the marine creatures that live down there.

It’s an eco-friendly way to dispose of human remains. If one needs a place to visit to pay respects to the dead, then by all means make a plaque and put it somewhere on land, maybe affixed to a tree, or rock, or you can continue to pay your respects in your heart where your loved one will always dwell.

As a modern, educated Cook Islander I am all for burials at sea – or any other alternative to burial on land.

We live on tiny little islands in the midst of a big ocean, where are all these foreigners (and ourselves) going to be buried if we keep going the way we are, burying our loved ones in huge concrete graves, taking up valuable land? Soon there will be nowhere left for the living. At some point in the near future the Cook Islands government is going to have to start endorsing other forms of disposal of human remains, such as cremation, or exhuming old burial sites and reusing plots. This is what happens overseas; no reason why we cannot do the same here.

It appears the complaints are really directed at foreigners seeking burials at sea. Pray tell, where are they supposed to be buried since no local landowner will give them somewhere to be buried? Please keep burials at sea as an option for everyone, not just foreigners.

Taeake no Davy Jones 

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