Essential information about cremation in New Zealand

Among the 33,000 New Zealanders who pass away each year¹, 70% choose cremation.² Just a few short years ago, that figure was only 60%. So why is cremation becoming so popular?

Why the majority of New Zealanders choose cremation

  • Cremation is accepted in many religions.
  • It’s a chance to be released back to nature.
  • It’s an environmentally friendly send-off. 
  • Cemetery and burial fees may be prohibitive without funeral insurance.
  • A person’s remains are portable if cremated and sealed, meaning it’s easier for far-flung family to see a person’s urn.

The average funeral can cost between $8,000 and $10,000, and it can be hard for families to budget because funeral directors don’t always advertise their prices.³

According to the Funeral Directors Association of NZ, cremation provides a degree of flexibility if a final resting place isn’t easy to settle on.⁴ A person’s ashes may be scattered, interred in a memorial area reserved for ashes, put in a family plot or garden, and cemeteries that offer ashes-only areas. 

Considering that cremation is affordable and environmentally friendly, and can see a person placed in some of the world’s most beautiful spots, it’s not surprising that it’s the option chosen by 70% of New Zealanders for their final farewell.⁵ 

The process of cremation

Taking place within a kiln, cremation is carried out under very high temperatures and takes two to four hours. Often, family members can watch a loved one’s cremation casket being loaded into the cremator. Ashes are cremulated (broken up) once retrieved and returned to family in a small container.   

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Cremation in New Zealand: The facts you need to know

Must a casket be used? 

Council rules state the deceased can be cremated in a casket or a shroud. While it’s okay to place mementos with the deceased, they must be combustible. Metal, rubber, glass and plastic unfortunately cannot be cremated.

What is the time frame for cremation?

A casket can be held up to 48 hours in a refrigerated holding room before cremation, according to Ministry of Health regulations as outlined by Auckland Council.⁶ 

Tip: You can’t scatter ashes just anywhere.

Cemeteries need to know whose remains have been placed there, so your loved ones should always let the council know if planning to put an urn in the ground. When scattering ashes, cultural and practical factors need to be considered. Culturally, it’s important to bear in mind whose property the ashes are being scattered on, and whether any non-cremated remains are among the material being scattered. 

Another factor to consider is the future of the land on which your family is scattering the ashes.

Begin the discussion with your family today so they never have to wonder what you would have wanted and consider putting a funeral insurance plan in place to help them pay for it when the time comes. It’s quick and easy and will help your loved ones implement your wishes at a difficult time.