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When someone dies

What needs to happen following a death depends on the circumstances. If you are unsure contact a funeral director, your doctor or a local minister for advice.

The law requires that a doctor must provide a certificate or a coroner make an order as to the cause of death. Additional paperwork is required if the body is to be cremated. This process is usually simple but may be more complicated if the death was unexpected.

The Funeral Director will come to collect the body at a time agreed with you. We will make an appointment to talk to you about the arrangements. You do not have to do everything immediately and we will work with you to sort out the timing and the details.

Death from natural causes

First the doctor must complete a certificate as to the cause of death. Where the death has occurred at home or your family doctor is involved then his or her knowledge of the case history is helpful. Where the death has occurred in a rest home or hospital or hospice the staff there will usually arrange for the doctor to be called.

You may wish to also call the Funeral Director at this time. Once the certificate has been signed the Funeral Director may collect the body for preparation.

Sudden or accidental death

The police must be involved if the cause of death is unknown or if the death has occurred under violent or suspicious circumstances. The police will require formal identification of the body and will then arrange for the body to be taken to a mortuary (hospital) until the coroner authorises release.

Our roles

The Funeral Director’s job is to look after the detail and make arrangements on your behalf. We will guide you through the legal requirements and practical details involved in organising a funeral. We will present you with the options for caskets, the type of service, the venues available, celebrants and ministers, burial plots, cremations and funeral notices. We can also help with caterers, florists, video recording & visual tributes.

Listening to your wishes and being aware of particular cultural or spiritual requirements is important. Each funeral is different and you can be as creative as you like. Your job is to tell us what you want to achieve and ask any questions that you need to. Where a death has been expected the deceased person may have left instructions or even completed a pre-arrangement with a Funeral Director. Such guidance is usually very helpful to family and friends.

The funeral director will usually place the first death notice as they provide the authorization required by the newspaper. The format can vary but usually includes full name & nicknames, details of honours and service, close relatives (often with terms of endearment), an address for messages, service date and venue details, and the funeral home contact details.



A Memory Tree

A Memory Tree is NZ’s largest and most comprehensive website holding death information.


The Funeral Directors Association of New Zealand (FDANZ) is an association representing the majority of the funeral directing companies in New Zealand – a group of caring professionals who are committed to ensuring that the families they serve are receiving high-quality service. Its members arrange and direct over 80% of all funerals in New Zealand.

Monumental Masons

There are important facts to know about purchasing headstones and arranging for repairs and maintenance to family graves and memorials.

Papers Past

Papers Past contains more than two million pages of digitised New Zealand newspapers and periodicals. The collection covers the years 1839 to 1945 and includes 70 publications from all regions of New Zealand.

Westland District Council

Cemetery records for the Westland area.


Skylight supports people facing any kind of tough life situation – whatever their age and whatever the cause.

Hokitika Museum

The museum has a great collection of treasures and its photograph and archives collection are an important resource for historians and genealogists.

Archives New Zealand

Archives New Zealand, Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga is the official guardian of New Zealand’s public archives. We gather, store and protect an extremely wide range of material. Our holdings include the originals of the Treaty of Waitangi, government documents, maps, paintings, photographs and film.