Burial or Cremation?
In many cases you will have spoken with your loved one about his or her wishes, or there will be a Last Will and Testament specifying funeral arrangements. However if there are no instructions, you and/or the family must decide quickly as to what kind of service you want to provide and how to do this.
Anyone can organise the burial or cremation of a body in NZ (refer to the Department of Internal affairs webpage and the ‘Before Burial and Cremation’ brochure).
There are a number of of things for you to consider
- You will need to act promptly. Without embalming, the body must be kept cool (cover with plastic and use icepacks) and generally buried or cremated within two to three days after death unless cool storage can be arranged, or there is cooler weather. Close the curtains to keep the sun out and open a window, to lower the temperature in a room. Lay the body out flat on a sheet or blanket to make lifting easier.
- There are two council owned and operated crematoriums in the lower South Island, in Dunedin and Invercargill. Both councils provide information on cremation and burial via their websites Dunedin Cemeteries and Crematorium or Invercargill Cemeteries and Crematorium. Our booklet provides information and forms for both these Crematoriums.
- Application for cremation and all necessary certificates are to be deposited with the officer at the crematorium prior to cremation. You will need the following:
- ‘Application for Cremation’ (Form A) to be filled out by relative or executor of the deceased
- ‘Certificate of Medical Practitioner’ (Form B) a medical certificate signed by a doctor showing the cause of death – the doctor will provide this.
- In the case of a coroner being involved you will also need an authorization form signed by the coroner known as ‘Coroners authorisation for release of body’ (Cor 3) this will be provided by the coroner.
- ‘Permission to Cremate’ (Form F) signed by a Medical Referee who will need to see the signed Form A and B (and the Coroners form if appropriate).
- ‘Register of Cremations’ form – Dunedin Crematorium; ‘Register of Cremations’ (Form H) – Invercargill Crematorium; to supply the registration of cremation.
- Register a death – All deaths in NZ must be notified to the Births Deaths and Marriages office within three working days after the body has been buried or cremated. If you are in charge of the funeral arrangements you must do this, check out the Department of Internal Affairs’ webpage and contact the Births, Deaths and Marriages office to request a ‘Notification of Death for registration form (BM28)’ to be sent to you.
If you wish to arrange a burial or cremation yourself, you will need to contact the crematorium (Dunedin) or the Cemeteries Office (Invercargill) for full details on booking the crematorium and chapel, fees and other documentation they may require – refer to the Cemeteries and Crematorium Operational Practices and Procedures document – Dunedin, or Invercargill City Council Cemeteries and Crematorium Charges document; found on their respective websites).
Additional things for you to think about when arranging a funeral and undertaking the procedures yourself; how to keep these costs low while ensuring a personal and significant process.
- Crematoriums have Chapels that can be hired for your gathering if you wish
- With flowers from your garden and things personal to the deceased, you can make a meaningful tribute to your departed loved one
- For transporting the body the casket must be secured in the vehicle; a station wagon, van or covered ute for transporting the casket to the crematorium or cemetery is suitable.