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Communtity Law Manual | A death in the family | Cremation: Legal requirements

Burial and cremation

Cremation: Legal requirements

In New Zealand cremation is more common than burial: it’s been estimated that about 70% of deceased New Zealanders are cremated. Cremations take place in crematoriums run by local councils and by some private operators.

Documents that have to be completed before a cremation

Cremation Regulations 1973 regs 4(2), 5(1), 7(1), Forms A, B, F

If the deceased’s body is going to be cremated, you’ll need the following documents:

  • the Certificate of Cause of Death given by a doctor or nurse (or the coroner’s Order for Disposal of Body) – take this with you when you go to the local council office to apply for a cremation.
  • an Application for Cremation (Form A) – you’ll need to complete and sign this at the local council office. You’ll need to pay for the cremation at the same time (see below). The council will also give you forms B and F (see below) to be completed.
  • a Certificate of Medical Practitioner or Nurse Practitioner (Form B) – you’ll take this new form to the doctor or nurse who saw and identified the body after death for them to complete and sign it. This form gives more information about the circumstances of the death.
  • a Permission to Cremate form (Form F) – you’ll need to get this signed by the “medical referee” from the local council or private operator that runs the crematorium, and you’ll need to show them the completed Forms A and B (see above). The medical referee is a doctor, and their approval is a final precaution that the cause of death has been determined and there’s no reason why the cremation can’t go ahead. There’s usually a charge for the medical referee’s services, but this may already be included in the cremation fee.

You’ll need to give all these completed forms to the crematorium manager or sexton on the day of the cremation.

Paying for the cremation

You’ll need to pay the council the cremation fee immediately or show them proof that Work and Income or ACC will pay for it through a funeral grant (see in this chapter, “Financial support for bereaved families”).

In Porirua, for example, a cremation costs $540 for an adult, and $350 for a child aged under 11.

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