We answer some questions that may crop up when planning a funeral.

Q. What are the legal requirements for a burial or cremation?

A. The main legal requirements are that a doctor’s certificate or coroner’s order has been issued before burial or cremation, and that the death is registered with the Department of Internal Affairs within three days of the body being buried or cremated. For cremation, you will need a cremation certificate from a doctor and to file this with the cremation authority before the body can be cremated. A cremation authority is someone who has permission from the local council to perform cremations. For burials, there are rules about where a body can be buried. In general a body must only be buried in a cemetery, denominational burial ground, private burial ground or Maori burial ground – and there are restrictions as to who can be buried in a denominational, private or Maori burial ground. You’ll need to get permission from your local council to conduct a burial or cremation, as they look after the public burial and cremation facilities.

Q: What are some of the normal costs of a funeral?

A: The average cost for a funeral is around $8,000 – $10,000 but can vary widely. Some of the normal costs associated with a funeral are:

  • newspaper notices to inform friends of the deceased
  • the burial plot or cremation fees
  • the coffin or urn
  • embalming
  • transporting the body, including hearse fees
  • venue fees for the church or funeral home
  • the celebrant’s or minister’s fee
  • the organist’s (or other musician’s) fee
  • catering for the reception afterwards
  • presentations e.g. audio-visual gear for videos, slide shows or audio presentations
  • printing costs for service programmes
  • flowers
  • portrait of the deceased to be displayed during the service
  • thank you cards to send to attendees after the service
  • death certificate

If you are using a funeral director to arrange to have the above tasks completed by a third party (e.g. printing service programmes), the funeral director will usually pay for the associated costs on your behalf at the time and pass them on to you in their invoice.

Q: Can a family legally run a funeral themselves?

A: Yes. Arranging a funeral, without the services of a professional funeral director is legal in New Zealand.

Q: Do I have to purchase a coffin through a funeral home?

A. No. You can build one yourself. Also many Funeral Homes offer rental coffins, so you can have an expensive mahogany coffin at the funeral if you wish but the body is transferred to a liner coffin for cremation or a cheaper coffin for burial.

Q: Can any person legally transport the body?

A. Yes. Any person can transport the deceased anywhere in the country. The only legal requirement is that the body MUST be covered from public view with a shroud or coffin.

Q: How can funerals be watched by family and friends who can’t make it?

A. Live-streaming means a funeral can be watched by anyone, anywhere in the world as it is happening.  This website gives provides some information on what can be done: https://www.oneroomstreaming.com/nz/funeral-homes.


Information sourced from:




Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here