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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: “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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A death in the family

Where to go for more support

Community Law

Your local Community Law Centre can provide you with free initial legal advice.

Find your local Community Law Centre online: www.communitylaw.org.nz/our-law-centres

Confirmation of the cause of death – Coroners

The website of Coronial Services of New Zealand has information about the role of coroners in investigating the causes of deaths.

Website: coronialservices.justice.govt.nz

Registering a death

The Births, Deaths and Marriages section of the Department of Internal Affairs has information on what to do when someone passes, including registering a death.

Website: www.govt.nz/browse/family-and-whanau/death-and-bereavement

Burial and cremation

See your local council website for information about burial and cremation in your area.

Gathering kaimoana for tangihanga

The Ministry for Primary Industries has information on its website about Māori customary rights for gathering kaimoana for tangihanga, hui and other traditional purposes.

Website: www.mpi.govt.nz/fishing-aquaculture/maori-customary-fishing

Financial support for bereaved families

Work and Income’s website has information about possible financial support for funerals and tangihanga.

Website: www.workandincome.govt.nz/eligibility/urgent-costs/bereavement.html
Phone: 0800 559 009

ACC’s website has information about different types of accident compensation and payments that can be made to family members when a person has died in an accident.

Website: www.acc.co.nz/im-injured/financial-support/financial-support-after-death
Phone: 0800 101 996

Organ Donation New Zealand

Organ Donation New Zealand has information about organ and tissue donation.

Website: www.donor.co.nz

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