Funeral Arrangements

First steps

If a family member dies in hospital, a hospice or rest home, the next of kin will be informed and will be advised to contact a funeral company. Nursing staff will ensure a doctor completes the Medical Certificate of Causes of Death form and Application for Cremation form (if applicable).

Should a family member die at home, while under the care of a hospice or registered palliative caregiver, you need to inform the on-call nursing staff who will arrange for a doctor to visit and sign the required papers.

Slow down

At this point our advice to families is to slow down. In most circumstances there is no need to start making any arrangements straight away. If the person has died at Wellington Regional Hospital ask to use the private Rata or Ngaio bereavement rooms on the ground floor.

If they have died in a hospice or rest home you can ask the staff to help lay them out and continue to have visitors. If they have died at home – again, take your time to process and acknowledge your loss.

Who to notify

  • Next of kin and family members
  • Solicitor or Executor of the Will
  • Funeral company to take care of the funeral arrangements

Police involvement

In the event of an unexpected, sudden or accidental death at home, hospital, work or public place – the Police must be contacted and the death will be investigated by the Coroner. A thorough examination by post-mortem will be required to ascertain the cause of death.

Contacting the funeral director

When you need to engage a funeral company, the first point of contact is usually a telephone conversation with a funeral director. You will be asked for the following information:

  • Your name
  • Contact telephone number and email address
  • Name of the deceased
  • Your relationship to them
  • Where the deceased is to be transferred from
  • Whether a doctor has signed the required paperwork
  • If it is the deceased’s wish to be cremated or buried in a natural
    or conventional cemetery
  • Preferred body care
  • When and where you would like to meet with the funeral director
    to make funeral arrangements

Once you have instructed the funeral director, the following will happen:

  • The deceased will be transferred into the care of the funeral company
  • Family members or executors will meet with a funeral director, either at the
    company’s offices or at home, to make the arrangements
  • Family meet with the celebrant or minister to discuss the programme of
    events for the service
  • The funeral director manages all bookings and administration, keeping the family
    informed and up-to-date
  • The death will be registered with Births, Deaths and Marriages; this will generate
    the Death Certificate, which will be sent out with the final funeral account

It is helpful to be prepared with the following for the arrangement meeting: 

  • Clothing – choice of clothing should be entirely appropriate to the deceased,
    formal or casual. Consider undergarments, footwear and favourite accessories.
    Decide if any jewellery is to remain with the deceased or be returned.
  • Photographs for the service sheet or photo show. These can be in either
    hardcopy or digital format.
  • Official details to register the death – see Registration Details
  • Newspaper notices – see Guide to writing a newspaper notice
  • Name and contact details of the solicitor handling the estate (if applicable)

During the arrangement meeting there will be a number of decisions to be made:

  • Suitable time, day and venue for the funeral service, rosary or family service
  • Cemetery or crematorium
  • Celebrant, Minister or family led
  • Suitable time for dressing or viewing, either at the funeral company or at home
  • Venue for catering
  • Choice of coffin
  • Floral arrangements
  • Charitable donations on behalf of the deceased
  • Newspaper notices – Guide to writing a newspaper notice
  • Photo show – see Photo Show
  • Service sheets – see Service Sheets
  • Music – organist, choir or recorded music
  • Representation by affiliated members: RSA, Masons or Rotary for example
  • Memorial register of attendees at the funeral service
  • Whether to record the service in audio or audiovisual format

At the end of the meeting you will be given an estimate of the final account.

This CheckList should be helpful.

Decisions regarding memorial headstones, interment or scattering of ashes
can be discussed at a later date.