DEATH: Disposition of Remains Report

The following information is submitted in accordance with referenced requirements to provide current data on local laws on the disposition of remains. The report incorporates changes from previous submissions.

The consular district covers the whole of New Zealand, Cook Islands, Niue, and Samoa.

A.   Maximum Period before Interment

New Zealand: There is no general requirement in New Zealand for burial within a prescribed period with the exception that when a person has died of a communicable disease, Regulation 36 of the Health Regulations Act 1946 requires that the body be buried within forty-eight hours of death.

Cook Islands:   There is no general requirement for burial within a specific time, although holding facilities are limited.  If death occurs by other than natural causes, burial can be delayed until an autopsy is carried out.  If death occurs on the Island of Rarotonga, remains can be stored at the Rarotonga Hospital.  The hospital charges a daily fee for use of the refrigerated storage area.

Niue:  In Niue remains must be disposed of within twenty-four hours.  In the case of a communicable disease, burial must take place within twelve hours.

B. Embalming

New Zealand: Facilities exist for embalming.  There is no specific legislation requiring embalming within a prescribed period.

Cook Islands: Facilities exist for embalming on the Island of Rarotonga.

Niue: No embalming facilities are available.

C. Cremation

New Zealand:: Local law permits cremation and facilities exist in all districts.

Cook Islands: Cremation is not available.  Remains can be shipped to New Zealand for cremation.

Niue: Cremation is not available.  Remains can be shipped to New Zealand for cremation.

D.   Casket and Containers:

New Zealand: New Zealand shipping and air regulations require that remains be placed in hermetically sealed metal-lined caskets and encased in a wooden container.  Funeral directors are responsible for packing and shipping remains and make sworn statements concerning the contents of caskets.  A local death certificate and health certificate must also accompany caskets.  Consular mortuary certificates are attached to rest of documents.

Cook Islands: There is no transit (exit) permit necessary for the shipment of embalmed remains.  Remains sent to New Zealand for cremation must be accompanied by a death certificate.

Niue: There is no transit permit necessary for the shipment of embalmed remains.  Remains sent to New Zealand for cremation must be accompanied by a death certificate.

E.   Exportation of Cremated Remains:

There are no local requirements concerning the exportation of ashes.  The New Zealand Customs Department issues the permit for the exportation of a body.

As there are no facilities for cremation in the Cook Islands or Niue, this does not apply.

F.    Costs:

There is a New Zealand Government “goods and services “tax (GST) of 15% included in all fees.

The fees reported below are an average of the fees reported by Funeral directors in a survey completed in November 2011. The exchange rate used is $US1.00= $NZ1.308.

  1. 1.   Local interment without embalming: $ N/A
  2. 2.   Embalming: $ 521
  3. 3.   Local interment with embalming: $ 4982
  4. 4.    Preparation for shipment (including container, embalming, documentation, casket and delivery to airport): $ 5067
  5. 5.   Local cremation: $ 600
  6. 6.   Preparation for shipment of cremated remains: $ 2294
  7. 7.   Airfreight:
    • Cremated remains –  $382
    • Repatriated remains (per Kg) – $22


G.    Exhumation:

A New Zealand Health Department license is required for exhumation and disinterment.  The cost includes Disinterment Fee, Professional Fee, Permit Fee, New Casket. $2241

Remarks:

When the cause of death is accidental, the New Zealand Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) pays for expenses which relate directly to the funeral and burial in New Zealand provided those expenses are reasonable by New Zealand standards.

Funeral directors will either file the claim with the ACC and bill the relatives for any outstanding balance or have the relatives file for reimbursement after payment of the total account.  ACC does not pay for the expense of shipment of remains to the United States.

There are no New Zealand Government benefits for funeral costs relating to death by natural causes.