Original article appeared on radionz.co.nz – A wide-ranging review of burial, cremation and the funeral industry is recommending tighter rules around who can own a funeral home or work in the industry. 

The Law Commission review of the 51-year-old Burial and Cremation Act also recommends modernising how deaths are certified, relaxing rules around where some people can be buried and making it easier to open a privately-run crematorium.

Find out more about the funeral industry in New Zealand on Insight ( 27 min 57 sec )

Other recommendations include modernising the way deaths are certified and ensuring funeral industry workers are registered or qualified.

One of the four commissioners who did the review, Wayne Mapp, said New Zealand’s laws were in many ways still aligned with the funeral traditions and rituals brought to this country by early European settlers.

He said they needed to be modernised to fit in with the diverse, religious, cultural and creative ways people choose to have their funerals or have their remains dealt with.

Currently a person can put these wishes into their will, but there is no obligation for them to be carried out. Dr Mapp said the commission recommended introducing a deceased’s representative to ensure wishes were carried out.


“We want to elevate the ability of the deceased to give directions as to what should happen to them upon death, it won’t be an absolute, in appropriate cases that could be overturned on reasons of cost or unreasonableness.”

Funeral Directors Association chief executive Katrina Shanks backs the recommendation that funeral directors and embalmers should have to be registered.

“If the Law Commission report is taken up, that means a funeral home will have to have a registered funeral director, which means they’ll be a qualified funeral director in their funeral home and they’ll be able to supervise non-qualified funeral directors within that funeral home.”

The government has six months from today to respond to the Law Commission’s review.


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