Italian burial concept, Capsula Mundi, transforms traditional cemeteries into forests

6 March 2017

On 7 March 2017 Te Papa and the Italian Embassy in New Zealand will host the Capsula Mundi Project at Te Papa in the framework of the Italian Design Day.

The Italian concept of Capsula Mundi focusses on the burial of human remains in an egg-shaped pod-like container that in the Te Papa workshop will be created with native vegetation, which is buried in the ground, and a young tree is planted above. The family of the deceased care for the tree, as the tree grows through the years. Over time additional people are added to the burial site with trees growing above, and eventually a forest is created honoring those beneath the ground.

Dr Arapata Hakiwai (Te Papas Kaihautu) said New Zealanders are becoming increasing aware of the importance and significance of how we farewell our loved-ones. This includes the type of burial container we place them in, as well as how we honour them and remain connected to their resting place.

The two Italian designers Anna Citelli and Raoul Bretzel are taking the concept of an eco-friendly burial to the world, including Aotearoa New Zealand. They are only in Aotearoa for about a week, and are having workshops and discussions in selected locations.

The Italian Ambassador H.E Fabrizio Marcelli welcomes the two designers Raoul and Anna with open arms and said Im confident that their concept of environmental friendly, natural burial will be welcomed in New Zealand, an environment conscious society.

The workshop at Te Papa will include local Ngti Toa and Ngti Raukawa weavers, who will co-design and produce a capsula mundi made of native plants and materials.

Te Waari Carkeek one of the Ngti Toa kaumtua at Te Papa said he is pleased the event at Te Papa will allow New Zealanders and iwi to consider alternative ways of burial, including eco-burials in the future.

The workshop at Te Papa will end with a panel discussion which will include Anna and Raoul, the Italian Ambassador and local speakers Hema Temara -Te Papas tikanga and marae co-ordinator, Megan Tamati- Quennell Curator Mori and Indigenous Contemporary Art, and Bruno Marques from Victoria Universitys School of Architecture.

Notes for editors

Capsula Mundi panel discussion is on Tuesday 7 March from 4pm to 5.30pm at Te Papa in Te Marae, level 4. Free event.