Burial or cremation

Often the deceased has made their wishes known, but if not then it is up to the family to choose what will happen to the body. There are four options available: burial, cremation, burial at sea or donating a body to medical science.


In the past, this was the most common choice and is still favoured by many. It provides a family with a focal point, a grave to go to where they can remember their loved one. Burial involves buying a burial plot, paying an interment fee (which covers the cost of digging the grave and maintaining it), and usually buying a memorial or headstone. In almost all cases, the places people can be buried are limited by law to official cemeteries or traditional burial grounds.

Natural Burial

In Wellington it is possible to have a natural burial at Makara Natural Burial Ground. This option has minimal environmental impact and means that the deceased person will become one with the thriving native bush. Learn more on the Natural Burials website or chat to your Funeral Director about this option.


Cremation provides greater flexibility when choosing a final resting place because there is are fewer restrictions to specific places of burial or scattering. Ashes can be interred in a cemetery or special memorial area, or they can be scattered somewhere the family or deceased thought appropriate, such as in a garden, at sea or in a favourite place. Some people split the ashes between different places. When deciding on a place to scatter your loved one’s ashes, Māori tikanga requires that you avoid food-gathering areas, whether on land or at sea. If you’re worried about how to respectfully scatter ashes, contact your local marae for guidance or talk to your Funeral Director. A memorial or plaque is often chosen to provide the focal point for the family and we can help arrange that, too.

The cremation process

Cremation involves placing the body within the casket into a cremator – a large metal box with room for only one casket. The cremation process usually takes two to five hours. The ashes are removed from the cremator and placed in an urn, about 26cm long and 15cm deep. The ashes will be available for families to collect after a couple of days.

In Wellington there are crematoria at Karori Cemetery and at Akatarawa Cemetery; we can also arrange to use the crematorium at Whenua Tapu. We can discuss which crematorium is most suitable for you.

You can choose to spend some time in the crematorium chapel with your loved one before the cremation, or to be present while we deliver your loved one into the care of the crematorium staff. You can also choose to have us bring your loved one to the crematorium without you present. There are lots of factors that go into making this choice, so your Funeral Director will discuss it with you at the arrangement meeting.

We have a range of attractive urns available for you to choose from.

Burial at sea

This requires a special casket, which we can provide. There are specially designated areas off the New Zealand coastline for burial at sea which we can show you and then help with the arrangements.

Donating a body to medical science

If you wish to donate your body you should contact the nearest medical school to find out more and register your wish to donate. You should also make your wish known to family and friends before your death. They will need to contact the medical school as soon as you pass away.

If a person dies without having registered with the bequest administrator of a medical school, their wishes cannot be fulfilled.

Our Funeral Directors can advise on ways to memorialise a person whose body is not present.