Sunday, July 25, 2021
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Ministry Releases Summary Of Submissions Into Refresh Of Death, Funerals, Burial And Cremation Legislation

A refresh of the Burial and Cremation Act 1964 and
related legislation is another step closer with a new summary
of submissions.

An initial report from the New
Zealand Law Commission found the 1964 legislation needed a
significant refresh to modernise the law that governs death,
burial, cremation and funerals in New Zealand.

Ministry’s Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay
says we need legislation that is modern and fit for

“The Ministry of Health has received
almost 200 submissions on the proposals, many focused around
the process of death certification, auditing of death
certification and regulation of the funeral services

A summary of those submissions has now
been published on the Ministry of Health website, as part of
the refresh of legislation.

“It’s good to see
people have been highly engaged in this process and we’ve
received lots of feedback. Death unfortunately affects
everyone and it’s been really important to us to gather as
much feedback as possible to ensure we get this refresh

“We want the legislation to be fit for
purpose now – but we want to ensure it’s future proofed
and can adapt to changing beliefs and attitudes towards
death and how we care for our deceased in New

Dr McElnay says many of the submitters have
correctly pointed out how outdated the current legislation
is and have focussed on the need for more environmental
sustainability, cultural awareness and a timely approach to
death certification.

“Death certification drew some
of the strongest submissions with a majority of submitters
agreeing bodies should be disposed of without undue delays
– we are looking at introducing a 24 hour timeframe for
death certificates in most cases; and expanding the pool of
certifying practitioners.

“There was also interest
in the idea of auditing death certification to ensure
information about how people die is accurate, but also
doesn’t cause delays for family and friends to farewell
their loved ones.”

People were also keen to see
national registration of funeral directors and more
information about the costs of funerals.

“There was
good support for removing unnecessary duplication between
Councils and the Ministry of Health in managing burial
grounds and crematoria, and for clarifying how burial
grounds and ashes are managed.”

“The Ministry
recognises the importance of updating this legislation and I
know how important these submissions have been to enable the
Ministry to work on the new legislation.”

expected some of the draft legislation will be ready and
presented to parliament by the end of the

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