Over 60% of families in New Zealand now choose cremation as their preferred method.
Cremation usually takes place following a funeral service, held either in a crematorium chapel or in another venue such as a church or funeral home chapel. It may be appropriate to have a committal service at the crematorium if the main service has been held elsewhere. Another option is for the funeral director to take the casket to the crematorium with no further attendance or ceremony.
Many people are curious about cremation, and there are numerous myths surrounding the process of cremating a body.
- One of the enduring fears is that the body is removed from the casket prior to cremation. This is not the case. The entire casket containing the body is placed in the cremator and reduced to ashes under controlled conditions and very high temperatures.
- Another fear is that more than one casket will be cremated at a time and the ashes returned may not be those of your loved one. There is room in the cremator for only one casket and the process is carried out in line with very strict guidelines, which ensures that the correct ashes are returned to a family.
The ashes are then broken down and placed in a simple container. The containers can then be placed in a suitable urn, which can be provided by your funeral director.
There is a far greater range of options available regarding the final resting place of the ashes than there is with earth burial. Ashes may be buried in a cemetery plot, memorial garden or even in a family property or favourite place. Many families choose to scatter the ashes in an appropriate place or, in some circumstances, they may even keep them at home. It is also possible for the ashes to be divided and one portion buried or scattered while the other remains in the possession of the family.
Burial is the most traditional form of disposal used in New Zealand, and in the past was the most common choice. Many families appreciate having a grave to visit and tend.
Generally, a burial will follow a funeral service in another location, such as a chapel, church, or marae. The traditional practice is that, following the service, mourners and family members will follow the hearse in a cortege. This is a slow moving procession that allows people to accompany the deceased on their final journey. In some larger cities, it is becoming normal practice to meet at the cemetery at a specified time rather than form a cortege. This is due to the higher traffic volumes and the fact that many motorists do not seem to show due respect to a funeral procession. If there is a cortege, the hearse and following vehicles will travel with their headlights on, to alert other road users to the nature of the procession.
As with cremation, there are cultural and faith based reasons why burial is the only choice for some people. A lot of these reasons centre around the belief that the body needs to be whole in order to be ready for the afterlife. The beliefs and practice of many of the cultures and faiths in New Zealand are described in Last Words.
It is important to note that, in most cases, a burial will be more expensive than a cremation. This is because there are three charges involved.
- plot purchase,
- an interment (or digging) fee which also covers maintenance
- a memorial stone or plaque, in most cases.