'In Conversation with' Annette Richards

How Parks and Open Spaces Play a Role in Health and Well-being, and How Cemeteries Can Be Linked to This

Parks Week, from 6-14 March is about hundreds of organisations across Australia and New Zealand acknowledging the vital role parks and open spaces play in creating liveable cities and thriving communities. The next guest in our “In Conversation with…” webinar series, Annette Richards, Parks & Open Spaces Program Manager at Aotearoa, will be joining us to discuss how spending time in our parks and open spaces (including cemeteries) can positively influence our wellbeing. 

Watch this webinar to find out more about the benefits of green urban open space, the growth and social injustice issues we face today, the problems and opportunities we are presented with and how cemeteries fit into all this.

A parks and public places professional with over 20 years’ local government and central government experience in New Zealand, in both urban and rural settings, operational and strategic, Annette has a broad knowledge and experience base and would describe herself as a neo generalist with a passion for people and places. Annette’s purpose is to develop solutions that benefit people in innovative and different ways. She approaches her work strategically - always with energy, curiosity and vision. Annette believes her strength is bringing together diverse people, synthesizing ideas and practice. She is interested in addressing holistically, the big issues that confront us in order to shape a better future, with the goal of being a unifying, positive champion for our Parks & Open Spaces sector.

Transcript

John Haley

Well, thanks, everybody, for joining me for today's event, which is "In Conversation With Annette Richards", and I'll properly introduce Annette in just a moment. But before I do, a couple of points of detail, housekeeping. We'll be talking today for about 30 minutes, give or take, and there'll be a nice chunk of time at the end for any questions.

John Haley

So, to that end, if you've got questions, you'll see somewhere on your screen there'll be a questions button and a chat button. It makes it much easier for me if you can put the questions into the questions area and use the chat for general question, general questions about technical things or general conversation about the webinar. But specific questions you'd like me to put to Annette, if you can put them into the questions area, it makes it much easier for me to keep them sorted. We have some of the team online with us. So, if there are any other issues, as I said, put them into the chat and we will try and get on to them straight away.

John Haley

And also, today's event is going to be recorded and there will be copies that are going to be provided and they'll probably be supporting materials along with those. So that'll come out to everyone who's registered whether they've attended or not. And we'd really love you to share that with anyone that you know that might be interested in any of today's events as well. We're providing this out as a service to the community. So, share it among the community as freely as you wish, please.

John Haley

So, my name is John Haley, I'm part of the Australia New Zealand team here at OpusXenta. And I'm going to be hosting today's event. And so it's my very great pleasure now to introduce you to the guest for today, our featured speaker, Annette Richards. Thank you for joining us Annette.

Annette Richards

Hi. Thank you. Thanks for having me.

John Haley

No, it's our very great pleasure. And you can see a little about Annette on the screen at the moment. And as hopefully most of us know, we're right in the middle of Parks Week here in both Australia and New Zealand at the moment. It runs 6th through the 14th of March. This is absolutely the perfect time to be talking about and to be acknowledging the really vital role that parks and open spaces create or play in creating a, for liveable cities and thriving communities.

John Haley

And to that end, as an absolute expert and the Parks and Open Spaces program manager at Recreation Aotearoa, and I hope I am pronouncing that correctly. Annette is absolutely the right person at the right time. So, there are a bunch of places we can and will go today, Annette, but let's start with the obvious one and we'll branch out from there, which is: why is green space and particularly but not exclusively green space in urban areas, why is it so important?

Annette Richards

So good day to everyone and thanks so much for tuning in. Yeah, talking about this, I guess we know that there are a lot of benefits provided to us, especially from urban green space that supports the ecological integrity of cities and that these spaces can also protect the public health of urban populations. Trees, for example, in urban areas can reduce air pollution and absorb airborne pollutants from the atmosphere. Green space can cool the temperatures. Trees can help us infiltrate storm water. Space, green space can help us replenish groundwater.

Annette Richards

We know that green covered urban forests can moderate temperatures dramatically, providing shade and helping with the risk of heat related illness for city dwellers. So when we examine, you know, with a green infrastructure, and I used to think quite loosely to include space and parks, when we examine whether the infrastructure can deliver social benefits, that the functionality of green infrastructure, as influenced by location and distribution or accessibility across a city. And so, by improving physical access to green open space and infrastructure, we consequently can provide a means for improving equity within urban areas and enhance the urban liveability of our cities.

Annette Richards

I suppose the reason I'm talking about urban centres a little bit is because the United Nations, for example, report that by 2050 sixty six percent of the world's population will live in a city. And we know that within cities, green space is not always equitably distributed or valued. In many nations, there's a different mindset around what is and what is not a park, what is civic open space, and I sort of like to try and encourage us to look at the totality of civic space, to look at all of those public spaces and how they might connect together or help us connect. Access, again, is often highly stratified based on income and ethno-racial characteristics, age, gender, disability and other axes of difference.

Annette Richards

Over the past two decades, the uneven accessibility of access to quality urban green space has been recognized as an environmental issue. A justice issue as its awareness, of its importance to our health in crisis. So it's an interesting problem and sort of opportunity.

Annette Richards

Currently for a lot of practitioners there's no clear guidance on how to translate that evidence based on green open space into on-ground action, which creates an opportunity to think differently about the totality of civic space. There's limited information to guide green space practitioners on how much is green enough? There's also a lack of guidance on how to deliver the multiple benefits of green space with finite resources. There are rising costs associated with new land acquisitions and increasing privatization and encroachment occurring globally.

Annette Richards

So some positive examples, if we think about cemeteries contributing to this problem, a couple of examples from my experience. One, when I had the privilege to serve the city of Auckland as a parks officer, Waikūmete Cemetery, which is quite a large cemetery and a part of Auckland, which is now experiencing quite extensive rapid growth, provides this really beautiful, large, established, passive, recreation opportunity. It contains a huge amount of history, infuriation of cultures are represented within the space and there are those opportunities for passive recreation. And it's been great to witness people walking their dogs through this park, people enjoying the open spaces during the summer, taking shade from the trees, and also the really important gatherings, civic gatherings to commemorate war and other historic events.

Annette Richards

And another thing that started occurring is, in these highly densified areas, we're noticing High-Rise developments springing up around some of these spaces, like Waikūmete Cemetery because I think, the value of that open space is being recognized as a place for people living in that densified environment.

Annette Richards

Another example comes from Nepal in Kathmandu City. I used to spend a lot of time there before we were restricted from traveling to work with the government there on greening the city and helping to establish a forest strategy for Kathmandu City, which is an area about half the size of Auckland City in terms of land mass and has a population of about six million people.

Annette Richards

So there'd be about point two five meters squared of open space per person in Kathmandu City. So what I observed was that one of the big local temples where a lot of the cremations are carried out, a place called Pashupatinath Temple, which dates back to the 5th century. It's basically positioned on the banks of the Bagmati river, kind of near the centre of Kathmandu, and, you know, this is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Annette Richards

It's a sprawling kind of area with a collection of temples and ashrams, images and inscriptions, memorials and extremely established trees, probably the largest collection of established trees in the city. And during the day this is a very busy place of cremation, of loved ones gathering and grieving. The processes is openly carried out in the public eye by holy men and women who live and work on site and. This is a busy, busy space during the day. As the sun goes down, the whole entire space changes into a site of congregation, of social activity. People pour into the place to gather together in the same spot during the day is the place of cremation and of grieving for families and rituals occur, sort of purges of light occur involving singing and socializing and tea drinking and praying.

Annette Richards

And it's very social. It's very alive. It's very friendly. And it was a really interesting experience to observe because it made me stop and think about the way in which spaces might start their life and what their main core function might be for, and then how that can evolve and change and how their spaces can be shared and become these multiuse sites that really clearly support the well-being of its citizens. So that was quite an eye opener for me.

Annette Richards

Another really awesome example is from Melbourne. I think the pronunciation is Bunurong Memorial Park, which I think started life in 1995 and sort of, for a few decades, sat as a small cemetery and crematoria in Dandenong, South Melbourne, and about four years ago, the sort of larger, sprawling memorial park in the south east of Melbourne. You know, really attempting to transform how Melbourne views the places where we bury our dead. So, very much so a change of narrative: cemeteries for the dead, and Memorial Parks are for the living and for the families.

Annette Richards

We don't need to relegate cemeteries to the past and keep them separate or other. We can connect them to the present in plain for the legacy, to be a place for the living, also to the future.

Annette Richards

You know they're so much more than somewhere a deceased person is memorialized, rather, the community parkland areas where loved ones are remembered by families along with a range of other activities, and some of those completely unrelated to death.

John Haley

We mentioned right at the start, and you're alluding to it here, I think that concept of, you know, inequality or inequity around access and urbanization and those types of things. And, you know, your example there, I live out in the south eastern area of Melbourne, not too far from where you're talking about it, or I live right on the urban fringe. So I've got an amazing access to forests and parks. And where I live, we have a lake it's brilliant. My son just recently joined Cub Scouts, which I hope is, or it's a local organization. I'm sure it translates to New Zealand as well. Yeah, the school is right near Bunurong, I'm not 100 percent sure of the correct pronunciation either. His school is right near there. And just the other day, I was talking to one of the parents there about how my son had joined Cubs. And I could see from his expression, and I mentioned that he'd been on a camp recently, I could see from his expression just this acceptance that he lived a bit more inner that his son wasn't going to be able to do those things at all. There was no parkland of the scale that we have access to out here. And so, you know, I'd been talking to him and it was almost this dismissal of, there's no point, there's no point putting my son into Cubs because what's he going to do, go and sit on the footpath and learn how to?

John Haley

So that speaks, I think, to that inequity. But also, you know, the school we were at was so close to the memorial park.

Annette Richards

Yeah.

John Haley

There's an opportunity there, surely.

Annette Richards

Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. And there's some really great initiatives out there. I know Auckland Council, for example, in New Zealand, who are really sort of working on that idea of creating opportunities for community to access natural open space and to maybe camp out with caregivers and with others and sort of get those opportunities.

Annette Richards

Almost like those sort of old memories I've got of outdoor education centres, when we were children growing up, we got to access so that we had that since of connection to nature. While sort of really living in a fairly dense suburb.

John Haley

And, at the same time, you know, as well as is that connection, it gives you the opportunity, as you sort of alluded to, to connect into the cultural side of things in a way that can be challenging as well.

Annette Richards

Yeah. Absolutely, absolutely, yeah, and I think there's something around that that talks to, I suppose, the need for a bit of a sort of thinking differently approach, where we can create some societal shift and perhaps use the drivers of well-being and sustainability or equity access to quality space to kind of change some thinking there.

Annette Richards

There's probably a range of things to consider around: how we can impact across society and that also includes across generations, things that we could do to improve opportunities for people to improve their position, their well-being, particularly those disadvantaged. And, you know, thoughts around how we can impact to improve inequity. And I think cemeteries play a role in this. Absolutely.

John Haley

You, I mean, you've got this amazing experience, as you alluded to, overseas and locally as well. There is still, I think, a certain amount of institutionalized or cultural resistance to cemeteries as these types of green spaces. And you spoke about some of the ways of overcoming that. I mean, do you have some thoughts and experience that you can share in that direction.

Annette Richards

Yes, I mean, I think acknowledging that. I guess the question we have to ask is sort of, how can we continue to rethink cemeteries, for example, as public spaces, and I suppose one of the key things is understanding the complexity of a cemetery, the history and the complexity of that history.

Annette Richards

If I think about, that we were talking about it before we started, the Black Lives Matter movement, the memorialization of historic figures, for example, in civic spaces or in parks. Even in New Zealand, that sparked quite a range of debate on how to memorialize historic figures, for example, or events. And so, cemeteries often contain a rich history around some of these things, too. So understanding that, in that this is a type of space that is public space, we'll need to consider the sensitive handling of complexities. I think that's, you know, that's really important.

Annette Richards

And we have to also respect people's dignity and those paying their respects and active sites, especially ones that are still operating as crematoria or cemeteries. You really need to; we need to balance the roles within really respecting the primary function and the reflective nature. So, you know, if we are going to be leading activation of these spaces or tours to help the public learn more about the history of the place, or we are allowing people to walk their dogs or, you know, perhaps a coffee kiosk to be parked nearby for the local people walking, looking or playing with their children. That we're doing that in a way that's not going to impact on the dignity of those paying their respects. Yeah.

John Haley

And again, sticking to sort of my local experience, I know there is a cemetery here in Victoria, out in Rye, that is right near a local primary school that I have my understanding almost and "Adopt a Grave" type program, where they get some of the students.

Annette Richards

Yeah, yeah.

John Haley

You know, there were all kinds of interesting benefits that they've had from that. But I guess it's starting to slowly break down some of those cultural taboos and things through those types of processes as well.

Annette Richards

Yeah, yeah. And again, I think back to, you've sort of triggered a memory for me, back to that sort of outdoor education experience I was given as a child, where we used to go, to that, nearby was a historic cemetery in part of our education. Recreational education was sort of getting into that space and almost like a historic kind of treasure hunt, searching out particular graves and learning about the people, learning about the history and the times, as a way of removing that sort of taboo, I suppose, around the purpose of a cemetery in a way. One of those sorts of functional purposes.

Annette Richards

And yeah, putting the focus on remembrance and on history and connection to the present. So I think there's something in there. And also, you know, cemeteries need to adapt to survive because certainly ones with space challenges, well, will eventually sort of have to sort of face that reality that they've run out of space.

Annette Richards

So being able to open up to the public and share the relevance of the space and the ongoing importance of that place in society. I think is really important. We've seen in the past where we haven't done that so well and. Yeah, there's a lot we can sort of take from that, that does contribute to the well-being of our citizens today.

John Haley

And then, you know, again, you spoke about it back at the start, there's the pure play, so to speak, environmental side of this as well. You know, I, and the pure play in that, in the more literal sense. But as the environmental side of it, I did a webinar for those of you who attended with Florence Jaquet, talking about natural burials, some of the environmental benefits, that type of thing can happen. But even just in, you know, some of the things you talk about in sort of being urban heat sinks and things like that, right?

Annette Richards

Yeah, yeah, exactly. And, you know, I think that's another thoughtful kind of area for me. Future based practices. We're going to need to have, we're going to need to think about these things, and what the urban requirements are for green infrastructure, for green open space, for social connection, which we know supports well-being. And planners and designers alike are going to need to be considering these things. And they are, especially around the practice, which is still very, very popular and will continue to be around densification of urban sites, especially the creation of compact cities.

Annette Richards

We need to be really thinking about those, preserving green spaces by way of close proximity and type, design, size, variation. And I suppose the idea of connectivity as well, as you were just talking to before around the involvement of nature, greenery in solving problems in the built environment. So yeah, I guess my sort of thought is why can't cemeteries be a part of that equation, and I know that they are and they're becoming more so, but there still is, still some sort of societal shift required some thinking differently that we need.

John Haley

And we've touched on it a little bit as well. But that idea of well, you know, everyone's heard that sort of phrase, shared grief and these types of things that bond a community, is there an opportunity for, shall we say, cross pollination of cultural ideas within a cemetery? And what does that do for bringing a community together with a shared, genuine sense of community across cultures? Is there, is there any sort of experience or thoughts around that type of concept?

Annette Richards

Yeah, I mean, look, the first one that instantly comes to mind for me, and it might not necessarily on the face of it, seem exceptionally cross-cultural, but I think it generally is. Would be the commemorations that we see occurring within some of our larger cemeteries for ANZAC Day and that kind of thing? And I suppose why that springs to mind is just really witnessing the history, I suppose, of our nation and the people that come together and actually congregate. It draws in the whole community, you know, young, old, all sorts of different people, different cultures.

Annette Richards

So, yes. So if we're able to do that and come together for sort of, a common purpose then when I think about the, some of the qualities I've admired overseas and the developing nations, especially in Nepal and India, you know, there's some really amazing social kind of congregational type events there that are also about grief, sharing of grief, but are also very celebratory, that we could absolutely look to include or widen our, kind of, minds around.

John Haley

And I guess in a similar way of trying to work the community into an environment that, actually the pictures on screen at the moment from Bendigo and I did a session with Annie Deong, for those of you attended here.

John Haley

And I was really impressed by, you know, some of the initiatives they've done to to bond themselves to the local community, one of which in particular, they have an amazing quantity of roses out there. And at the right time of year, they invite the community to come in and learn about how to prune roses and which is, such a, when I heard it, I thought, what a fantastic idea.

John Haley

But again, what a great way to broaden the use of the green space, to blend yourself into the community and to break some of those taboos to get people coming into cemeteries and use them as a pure green space, not just a place of death care and mourning.

Annette Richards

Absolutely. I mean, absolutely. I think, you know, the public realm, and I guess we've got to think about it that way. It really does affect our humanity and our enjoyment of life. So if we're thinking about the totality of civic space and how we can connect all of these parts of our sort of civic environment together in a way that is inclusive for everyone to sort of use in their own way, in their own different ways. Then we're onto something quite clever there.

Annette Richards

Recently, I went through a small town in New Zealand called Rajshahi and they've done, i's a small town, but they've done an amazing job of just through the use of sheared kind of pathways, fairly wide kind of shared pathways running through the town, either side of the road. They've managed to connect people to the really historic cemetery. They've connected people to historic kind of artifacts from the agricultural past, they've connected people to the river and waterways in the township just with a really simple, kind of, simple kind of design, I suppose, that encourages people to include these places along the way, if it makes sense.

John Haley

Yes. If I'm understanding what you're saying, it's almost a jogging track that leads you from a point of interest to point of interest.

Annette Richards

Yeah. So what would have been, you know, a fenced off, separate other place as a cemetery before is now part of the experience if that makes sense.

John Haley

Yeah. It becomes, you don't have that clear interstitial break from place to place.

Annette Richards

Yeah. Yeah. So there's a whole lot of ways of doing that by using that, what I call that total civic space. And often we're talking, sort of, in some cases, very large kind of road reserve environments, you know, in some places. So it will vary, but I think the totality of space is what matters. It's not just a few good parks or a few good buildings. And ensuring that there's a way for everyone to be able to enjoy those spaces in all their forms, really.

John Haley

So not to not to cut across the conversation, but I do notice that we've just hit onto our time. We still got a bit more time. But, yeah, I'll just move through a couple of things. And we have got additional time, as I said, and a few questions. And please do throw any more that you've got in to us. But before we get into that, I'll get the end of session bookkeeping out of the way.

John Haley

And you can see on screen at the moment our OpusXenta website. So as I've said at the end of all of these types of events, we're trying to do this for the death care sector. We try to provide an opportunity for learning and education throughout the sector. So if there's topics that you'd like to see or hear about, reach out to us and let us know. But equally, on our website, you can see just a screenshot there from our event section.

John Haley

You can see today's session, our next upcoming event using technology to build your sales pipeline or funnel. Um, and I know that coming up after that. And for those of you who go to the website, we've got a really interesting session on the idea of gaining visibility and building relationships within the community. So, you know, some of what we heard today, it even touches on some of the things I had a conversation with, as I mentioned, with Annie de Jong from Ballarat cemeteries.

John Haley

She talked around this a little bit. And if you didn't attend that, let us know and we can get you a recording, because that was a really fascinating conversation, I thought as well. But take a look around our website, reach out, let us know what you'd like to hear about and register for anything that does catch your eye. And do throw in any questions, because we do still have a little bit of time and I'm going to return to you Annette, although if you blanked your screen for a moment, but I know you're still there.

John Haley

And I got a handful of questions here that I'm going to kind of, lump together because they all probably address the same core issue. And it's a tough one, I know. But I'm sure it's one that you've got some experience we touched on lightly, which is that idea of the cemetery being perhaps somewhere a little bit taboo or other, and trying to, you know, put these offers and opportunities out there. But to to find a way to break through and get the community into there, I suppose, if that makes sense.

Annette Richards

Yeah, and look. I think it's, as I've sort of alluded to, we were talking about it before. There are those challenges and we have to, we have to really consider how to balance things. But obviously, working with the community, working with all of the stakeholders, and generally there'll be quite a range of people, as you know, developing relationships and really investing and taking time to listen and to hear different perspectives and points of view. And even in some cases setting up some some not necessarily super formal, but some sort of framework or governance around that so that, you know, there is there is progress that can be made towards solutions that the community feel they've had a say in making happen, if you know what I mean.

Annette Richards

So you want leadership, I suppose, is what I'm getting at. And if, you know, if we do it right, people will say that they've done it themselves. You know what I mean? That's a really good litmus test for servant leadership. If the community says, well, hey, look what we managed to achieve here, then people like myself have done their job properly.

John Haley

Yep. I think that's absolutely 100 percent beautiful segue into another question we've got here from the audience around the idea of volunteers and particularly in this case around volunteer gardening within the cemeteries. And I hope I'm pronouncing this, not butchering it too badly. But, you know, there's a particular question about Tayhenry cemetery in New Plymouth, where apparently volunteers do all of the gardening. And it's actually included in the Taranaki Garden Festival because they've done such an amazing job.

John Haley

And I think in that case, as you say, the community is clearly so embedded within the cemetery environment there that delivering an amazing outcome. Right.

Annette Richards

I mean, that's fantastic. Yeah. And look, you know, so many civic and so many kinds of councils, I suppose, for want of a better word. If they haven't already, they may find themselves financially in the future unable to kind of provide the full level of service that a place might deserve in terms of the funding they're given. So, you know, being able to connect with volunteers, with the local community, with friends of, you know, of a place and extend that band for buck, extend that service level and that care that is deserved, so, so deserved and is a fantastic outcome.

Annette Richards

Obviously, there's challenges at times with any form of voluntary service, there has to be the managing of Health and Safety aspects and there has to be some sensitivities considered when we're talking about graves especially, because obviously they belong to family members, so it's really important that the family members are comfortable and happy with what's occurring. But it's such a brilliant way to also engage a really important part of our community who have a lot to offer. And they themselves also gain a lot of well-being from that social connection and from being of service. So, yeah, while volunteers might be seen, sometimes as a challenge, and ultimately people are the solution, definitely not the problem.

John Haley

Yeah, um, there's another one here. And I'm going to I'm going to paraphrase this one a little bit. You know, we've spoken a little bit about the benefits that Green Space can provide in that in that urban environment. And, you know, if you've got a moment, I love that statistic you provided that, I think it was 60 percent, 66 percent of the population, we'll come back to that maybe in a minute. But the question here is sort of looking at that from the other direction. What of that, if anything, can we lift and apply to a more regional environment where there is perhaps a little bit more green space available?

Annette Richards

Oh, I mean, that's such an interesting one, isn't it? Look, I'm a person, too, who's left a city and I live in a house in the country, and sort of try my best to work remotely. Or travel a lot in order to work, and I think there's definitely different ways to do things, and there's something to be said for encouraging disbursal.

Annette Richards

Absolutely. Of people across space. But the reality is that, for whatever reason, people perceive cities as being these places of opportunity, of necessity, and they gravitate to them. And I don't believe that those trends are going to change any time soon. And beyond things such as, you know, housing supply, unemployment levels, pollution, infrastructure that impact the quality of our living, we still have to really think about how we can provide quality infrastructure, green infrastructure and spaces for people in those in those city environments.

Annette Richards

So I don't think we're going to solve that one overnight, unfortunately.

John Haley

No not an easy one by any means. I wouldn't have thought. And sorry, I maybe didn't quite express that correctly. What about, where we do find ourselves, you know, you and I live on the urban fringe. Sounds like you do as well, where we do have a little bit more accessibility. Are there any lessons from the more urban environments that that can be applied out to the more regional environments or vice versa?

Annette Richards

Yes, sorry. Yes. Yes. So I think there's some really interesting literature out there now. I think Auckland, especially, for example, are looking at this as well, around making more viable, I suppose, the business and I suppose the opportunities for people where they live, so the idea of more nodal kind of living, where you work, where you live, and you don't have to necessarily cross the entire city from one side to the other to go about your business or to do your job. So I think there is definitely a lot more planning and thought going into how we can make that a reality for people.

Annette Richards

I mean, do you have to commute at the moment for your work?

John Haley

Well, I suppose, we have, yes, we perhaps have a pre and post-Covid reality.

Annette Richards

Yeah, yeah.

John Haley

Yeah. Certainly in this role, you know, we're such a diverse community here in the death care sector that there's always going to be quite a lot of travel. But I think back into some of my earlier working life, there have been times when I've been sitting in traffic for literally an hour and a half just to get to the office. That's no kind of fun.

Annette Richards

Yeah, and I think that's a reality for a lot of people. So I know there's a lot of interest, especially from those sort of city planners and people thinking about the long term future, about how we can we can make where people live more sustainable and kind of, I suppose, in terms of service, able to provide you with what you need there, so that there isn't so much of that traveling around, which we should also take some pressure off of the whole system, the whole network.

John Haley

Another one here. And I'm going to use the example that we got before about Tananui. I hope that vaguely, right?

Annette Richards

Yeah.

John Haley

I know a lot of the smaller cemeteries are run by volunteer trusts where they have such a limited bandwidth of their time and so much of it is just concerned with keeping the trust operational in the cemetery, basically running. Do you have any experience or insights or anything you can put to that besides sympathy around the idea of these smaller trusts and how they can propagate the great resource that we have in these cemeteries among the community? Does that make sense? Have I expressed that correctly?

Annette Richards

Yeah, you have. Look, I mean, this might not be something that necessarily feels right for everyone out there, but. You know, we've seen this in other parts of our industry, in the parks and recreation industry, where there comes a time or a need to collaborate, I suppose, or to even consider alliances or how, if we can't co-locate, then how we can actually share, you know, share resources, share costs, perhaps by joining forces, if that makes sense. So it could be through organizations or it could be through partnership agreements. You know, there's probably a range of ways to maybe just think beyond the boundaries of the place. And find those others that could be having a shared experience and maybe by joining forces, more can be achieved, if that makes sense.

John Haley

Yup. So I'm conscious of time and we are probably right up against our stop time now. But I don't know whether you've watched one of these or whether this will come to you as a surprise or not. But I like to try and end these with a question, which is: what is the question that I haven't asked you, Annette, that you think that I should have? Or what is the what are the closing words that you would like to put across to us all?

Annette Richards

Sure.

John Haley

There's a tough one for you.

Annette Richards

Uh. I think the. I think the biggest question would be. And I have touched on this, but. I think all of us need to consider what we can do, essentially, to impact across society and across generations in order to support the well-being of others. I think, for me, that's the key thing we all need to be thinking about now.

John Haley

So that concept of servant leadership.

Annette Richards

Absolutely. And, you know, I suppose I can't help but our leader in New Zealand just talks a lot about kindness and empathy. And so, yeah, it sort of resonates for me as well. How we can help others in the community, especially those less advantaged.

John Haley

Well, that, I think is an excellent note to end on. Thank you very much for your time. I hope the audience found it as fascinating as I did. I've enjoyed our conversations leading up to this and certainly today.

Annette Richards

Same.

John Haley

So thank you very much for your time, Annette.

Annette Richards

Thank you!

John Haley

As I've said before, this will be or has been recorded. And so we will be putting out the recording to anyone that has registered and please feel free to share that widely and openly. My contact details are on screen, reach out to me, I'm sure Annette it would be more than happy to, for me to connect through to her if you'd like to be put in touch with her. And finally, if there's something else that you'd like us to talk about in future, reach out, let us know.

John Haley

Or if you have something that you would like to say and would like a forum for it, reach out, let us know, because this is all about trying to provide a platform and a voice, interesting, out to the death care sector. So, Annette, once again, thank you so much for your time. I really enjoyed it and thank you to everybody else. And we will cut it off there.

John Haley

Thanks, everybody.

Annette Richards

Thanks so much.