Burial & Cremation Act Review


November 2020

The Ministry of Health sort feedback on the options from industry and other interested stakeholders, including the general public. Submissions have now closed. The consultation helped inform the development of a modern, fit-for-purpose legislation for death, burial, cremation and funerals.

Current version of the Burial & Cremation Act

Non legislative changes that have been implemented since the review.

October 2015

A full and comprehensive report with an eloquent and creatively written Foreward. Refreshingly the review has understood and evaluated the needs of New Zealand families who are either wanting to bring their funeral ‘back in-house’ or wanting to work cooperatively with a funeral service provider, outsourcing some of the funeral arrangements.

We are lucky to have these choices – but families still need advice and guidance and accurate information is difficult to find.

April 2015

The New Zealand Law Commission is anticipating the final report should be published before October of this year. This will then be tabled in Parliament with 6 month response period from Government.  Any definitive changes or amendments in the current laws may well be 2 years away.

June 2014

The New Zealand Law Commission has now published a Summary of Submissions 2014 of the first principles review. It details the responses from various submitters to questions posed about reviewing the Burial & Cremation Act.

December 2013

The New Zealand Law Commission has now undertaken a first principles review of the Burial and Cremation Act 1964 released 4th October 2013. Submissions from general public and interested parties were due to close December 2013 – this was extended to 20th January 2014.

A final report bringing together the policy proposals in both papers is expected by the end of 2014.

A comprehensive read of 257 pages this document will shape the future of our death rites in New Zealand.

Burial & Cremation Act: First Principles Review

Apart from a number of small amendments, the Act is substantially unchanged since its enactment nearly half a century ago. The Act’s primary purpose is to ensure adequate provision is made for the burial of the dead in a manner which is controlled and respectful and which meets public expectations. It also contains the legal provisions governing the certification and registration of deaths.

As part of the review the Law Commission will consider whether the Act is meeting public expectations and needs with respect to the handling and burial or cremation of the dead with specific reference to: the care and custody of the body after death; the provision of culturally appropriate options for burial or cremation; the responsiveness to individual or group requirements that fall outside the ambit of the current Act (e.g. eco or green burials); the suitability of religious affiliation as the sole criteria for the establishment of burial grounds. The review will include extensive consultation on these and other issues.

The Law Commission published an Issues Paper on 23 May 2011 Final Words – Death & Cremation Certification in NZ (NZLC IP23, 2011) examining the strengths and weaknesses of the Death and Cremation certification systems. The paper is the first issues paper published in relation to the Law Commission’s Review of the Burial and Cremation Act 1964.  If you are so minded it is an interesting read, with some revelations on the medical fraternity in the UK.

Submissions closed on 30 July 2011.