In Loving Memory

Funeral Flowers

Further resources

For general information and advice (no charge) please phone Frances on 022 561 5620, or email info@diyfuneral.co.nz.

The following links will take you to many people and organisations who are actively supporting the home funeral movement:

Organisations (national and international) carrying out excellent work in the home funeral domain

Karen Williamson of Akeake Shrouds has put together a resources page which lists many of the people and organisations who are supporting home funerals in NZ. I will list some of the most helpful ones below with a description of what they do, but if you want to download a PDF document which contains all the links you can do so here.

  • The Australian Home Funeral Alliance (AHFA) offers heaps of very useful information, including several educational videos which can be viewed here. It also has a page specific to NZ, including a very useful flowchart by Claire Turnham outlining the paperwork process in this country. If you are contemplating holding a funeral at home, AHFA's website will give you a very good understanding of what is (or can be) involved.
  • Nga Pou Herenga - The Funeral Guides' Collective are based in the Whakatane area and have been successfully guiding and supporting their community for many years in home funerals and death care. Their very informative website can be viewed here.
  • The Fare-Well Trust provides end-of-life and after-death care and support to people wishing to die at home or use assisted dying services in the Marlborough/Nelson region. View their website here.
  • The wonderful Tilly Stevens runs a website called It All Matters which is a trove of valuable information, offering assistance with almost every aspect of end-of-life planning.
  • Organisations such as Compassionate Communities and NODA in Rotorua are attempting to grow solid community support for people as they are approaching the end of their lives. I salute their efforts to meet this very great need.

Online resources

  • For an insight like none other into the workings of death you can't go past Caitlin Doughty's YouTube channel Ask a Mortician, which has over 2 million followers (with good reason). Although it's American, her website Order of the Good Death has much to say which is just as relevant here in NZ.
  • Caitlin Doughty has also written three best-selling books which are both hilarious and philosophical. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes (and other lessons from the Crematorium) is not just a fascinating account of her experiences as a mortician, which led her to virtually found the alternative death movement in the US, but is literally one of the best books I've ever read. She is a marvellous writer.
  • The Spinoff's special issue for "Death Week" contains lots of good articles and helpful information.
  • In October 2023 TVNZ's current affairs programme "Sunday" aired a segment on the high cost of funerals which featured me picking up pallets and making a casket for my good friend Karen.

  • Some media articles on DIY funerals include Cutting the cost of dying, The Kiwi way of death, Can you die for free? and The high cost of dying.
  • NZ Community Law provides free legal advice on all sorts of subjects.
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    Services and support for people dealing with the end of life

    Death doulas

    Death doulas are people who step into the end-of-life space to help families through the process. They are often retired nurses who wish to support people in caring for the dying, dealing with the body after death and so on. Like the home funeral movement generally, there is a resurgence of interest in this work, both from people wishing to carry it out, and people who need it.

    If you feel you would like support with any aspect of caring for a dying person, a doula can help you.

    If you live in the Wellington area, Melanie Humphries-Connolly is an experienced end-of-life doula and registered nurse with a background in palliative care. She is available to support and advise families in all aspects of end-of-life care, and can be contacted here or on 027 633 1900. She is also co-facilitator of the Hutt Valley Death Cafe which provides a friendly and non-confronting space for conversations around dying, death and living.

    If you live elsewhere in NZ, click here to see if an end-of-life doula is available near you.

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    Grief counsellors

    Death and dying can bring up very strong emotions. Family systems and friendship networks can be severely tested during such a time. If you feel you need support there are resources available. You may be able to find free or cheap counselling in your area with an online search or by contacting the Citizen's Advice Bureau.

    Lifeline provides counselling services by phone and text 24hrs a day 7 days a week.

    There are many women's centres around NZ which can usually provide very reasonably priced counselling services.

    For a more personally tailored service you may wish to contact a professional such as Claire Laurenson, who has over 30yrs experience of supporting people through their grieving processes. To see what Claire has to say about grief, and what she can offer, click here, or visit Grief Relief.

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    Funeral directors in the Wellington and Nelson regions who are supportive of home funerals

    Funeral services in the Wellington area

    If you do feel you need the services of a funeral director for some or all of your funeral arrangements, as a matter of principle I always advise people to look for the sole operators. It can be difficult to find them as many small funeral companies have now been bought up by Invocare or Propel but continue to operate under the original names. Usually somewhere in the fine print at the bottom of the website there will be a giveaway, such as "another Invocare company".

    Please bear in mind that many of the bargain basement cremation services being offered in NZ are owned by these two companies, so if you wish to avoid supporting large Australian corporations, do your research carefully and try to establish whether the person you are dealing with really is a sole operator, or whether they are part of a corporation. You might prefer to give your money to an ordinary person who actually needs to make a living, rather than a bunch of shareholders.

    If you live in the greater Wellington or Horowhenua regions, I can thoroughly recommend George O'Donnell of Private Cremations, a lovely young man and one of the very few sole operators left, who is genuinely dedicated to providing affordable cremation services to ordinary people.

    To contact him please phone George on 0210 231 4739, or email george@privatecremations.co.nz

    Another Wellington-based funeral director I can highly recommend is Fiona King, also a sole operator. Fiona is a very helpful person who specialises in eco burials utilising the cemetery at Makara. Her website Broadbent and May is excellent. She has also given a wonderful TED Talk called "A Natural Undertaking" on taking back control of the funeral process.

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    Funeral services in the Nelson area

    Lynda Hannah offers a holistic service which educates, supports, and assists families making low-cost and environmentally sustainable funeral arrangements themselves without employing a funeral director. Her website Living Legacies offers a wealth of advice. She has also written a handbook giving comprehensive advice on how to carry out a low-cost natural funeral yourself.

    Owen Haring is a sole operator in Richmond who offers simple, direct funerals at a very reasonable cost. He is a very nice man and his website Simple Direct Funerals is interesting and informative and even includes a blog.

    DIY funeral workshops in the Wellington area

    The organisation Death Without Debt aims to educate the public and advocate for change to current regulations and systems which are driving New Zealanders into funeral debt. DWD has been running workshops like this one giving practical information and assistance on how to arrange a home funeral. If you would like to attend a workshop in future please phone Fergus Wheeler on 021 163 3178, or email deathwithoutdebt@proton.me.

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    Paper resources - booklets you can order or read online

    Better Send-Off

    Gail McJorrow's book Better Send-Off was published in 2015 and remains a very useful resource for DIY'ers.

    The Home Funeral Handbook

    Living Legacies provides a handbook giving comprehensive advice on how to carry out a low-cost natural funeral yourself, which you can order from the website.

    Arranging a Funeral

    The following book is a classic in the DIY sphere and has been a valuable guide for many New Zealanders over the years:

    "Arranging a Funeral:
    What You Can Do Yourselves
    ~ A New Zealand Guide ~
    by Philip Tomlinson

    Click for more info >>>

    Legislation

    For those who have a burning desire to understand the state of the law in NZ, these are the primary acts and regulations affecting the handling of dead bodies and funeral processes in this country:

    A review of the Burial and Cremation Act 1964 has been under way for several years, without results so far. It is being carried out by the Ministry of Health. Information on the review, including links to submissions, can be found here.

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