Overhaul of burial laws sought

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Fairfax

The Law Commission is calling for wide sweeping reforms of laws governing how we bury our loved ones, and proposals to allow independent providers to set up cemeteries and let burials occur on private property.

Source: Thinkstock

About 30,000 New Zealanders die annually, leaving their family and friends to make the decisions on how to properly care and mourn for the dead.

The Law Commission said cemeteries are an essential public service and local authorities (councils) have the legal responsibility for providing them.

Public debate on whether to the cemetery sector open up private providers - and those who wished to establish eco or natural burial sites - was sought by the commission.

It also wanted feedback on whether there was a case for stronger controls and accountabilities for the cremation and funeral sectors.

It was the first time the overall law around matters such as when and where burials took place, and who provided funeral and cremation services had been reviewed, commission president Sir Grant Hammond said.

Some local authorities also provide cremation services but they are not legally obliged to do so.

In some regions cremation services are provided entirely by the private sector, often in conjunction with a funeral home.

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