Auckland Māori traditionally buried or interred their dead after their own customs, often in volcanic caves, rather than in formal European-style cemeteries such as the Symonds Street. Iwi throughout the region however now maintain urupā, similar to European cemeteries, on their tribal lands.
With 69 Māori burials here, the Symonds Street Cemetery is regarded by Māori as wahi tapu – a sacred place, subject to ritual restrictions on access or use.
A Māori cultural practise on leaving a wahi tapu area is to wash your hands. This lifts the tapu (spiritual restriction) and allows people to make themselves profane again to continue with everyday activities.