Burial, Cremation & Disinterment

Toi Te Ora Public Health carry out responsibilities under Burial and Cremation legislation and contractual functions in Bay of Plenty and Lakes districts, including reporting on a range of burial, cremation and disinterment situations.

Some of our responsibilities under burial and cremation legislation include:

  • Disinterment
  • Repatriation of deceased foreign nationals who have died in New Zealand
  • Establishment of new crematoria
  • Closure of cemeteries and burial grounds
  • Investigation of illegal burials
  • Burials in special places

We work with territorial local authorities (e.g. City and District Councils), burial ground owners and funeral directors to carry out its functions under the burial and cremation legislation.


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Applications for disinterment must be in writing and are usually made by:

  • a person(s) related to the deceased;

  • the executor of the Will of the deceased;

  • a funeral director acting on behalf of either of a relative or executor;

  • an iwi/Māori authority acting on behalf of the close relatives or;

  • another person acting for the family.

Applications should be submitted us and we will assess the application and forward the application to the Ministry of Health, together with a report and recommendations.

Download the application forms

Repatriation of foreign nationals who died in New Zealand

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Normal procedure is for the funeral director, in the country where death has occurred, to consign the body to a funeral director designated by the relatives of the deceased.  The NZ funeral director should obtain the details of requirements imposed by the country of destination.  Sometimes the Medical Officer of Health is requested to provide additional certification relating to the deceased.

New crematoria or closure of cemeteries and burial grounds

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If a new crematorium is to be built, or an existing premise reconstructed or adapted to be used as a crematorium, the following have to be submitted for approval to the Ministry of Health before work is commenced:

  • Plans and specifications for the premises (including a site plan)
  • Details and specifications of the equipment
  • Any Council approval documents
  • Applicants should consult with a Health Protection Officer as early as practicable, to enable a report to be submitted at the same time as the other information for the Ministry of Health.

Upon application for closure of a cemetery or burial ground, the Minister of Health may direct that a cemetery or burial ground be closed.

Investigation of illegal burials

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Toi Te Ora Public Health will undertake a full investigation in the facts surrounding an alleged or suspected unlawful burial, when advised. The findings of this investigation (including recommendations) will be reported to the Ministry of Health.

Burials in special places

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On occasions, individuals may wish to be buried on private land or other than in a cemetery or burial ground.  For a burial in a special place, the applicant must show exceptional circumstances, which make the burial of that body in that place particularly appropriate.  Each application is determined on its merits.

Burials at sea

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Burial at sea is an authorised method of disposing of a body, and controls apply.  The person in charge of the burial must ensure that all requirements have been met before proceeding with the burial. Approval for burial at sea will depend on the intended burial site.