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Burial & Cremation Options

What are the options?

In New Zealand there are four options available: burial; cremation; burial at sea; or donating a body to medical science.


In decades gone by, burial was the most common choice, and it is still favoured by many people. Many family members appreciate having a grave to visit which they can use as a focus to make a connection with the person who has died – thinking about them, crying, talking to them, or tending their grave. Burial involves buying a burial plot, paying an interment fee (which covers the cost of digging the grave and ongoing maintenance) and usually buying a memorial of some kind, such as a headstone. For many people, the “unveiling” of the headstone is an important part of their grieving.

In New Zealand, apart from a few exceptional circumstances which your funeral director can tell you about, the places a person can be buried are limited by law to official cemeteries or Maori burial grounds.


Cremation provides greater flexibility when choosing a final resting place, since you are not restricted to specific places of burial. Ashes can be buried in a cemetery or in special ashes memorial areas. Some families like to scatter them in a family plot or memorial garden, at sea, or in a favourite place. It is important in this case to be careful that the area you have chosen is not close to traditional Maori food-gathering grounds.

Some people split the ashes and have a portion in one place and the rest somewhere else. Families often choose to have some sort of memorial in a special place to the person who has died. For many grieving people, organising this is a positive way of dealing with their loss, and your funeral director will be happy to help with this.

The process of cremation is something people often wonder about. It comprises the casket, with the body inside, being placed in a cremator, which is like a very large metal box about the size of a small car. In some places it is possible for families to watch the casket being put into the cremator. The process of cremation takes place under very high temperatures, and generally takes between two and four hours. There is room for only one casket, and the ashes are taken from the cremator before it is used again, ensuring there is no chance of the ashes being mixed with others.

After cremation, the ashes are crenulated, or broken up. They are put into a simple container, usually made of plastic, which is about 30 centimetres long, and 15 centimetres deep.These containers are designed to be put later into an urn. We have a range of urns available to choose from.

Burial at sea

Burial at sea can take place only at specially designated locations off the New Zealand coastline. It’s an option that can be chosen by people pre-arranging their funeral, or by the family. A special type of casket is required, and it is usually buried at sea from either a boat or a helicopter. Talk to us and we can give you more information and make the arrangements for you.

Donating a body for medical science

New Zealand medical schools do not have a constant requirement for donations. If you are interested in this option it is essential that arrangements are made prior to the death and that the medical school’s range of requirements and criteria have been met. As an alternative, you may want to be an organ donor. Grinter’s Funeral Home will be able to give you information about both of these options.


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