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Changing legislation 

The Ministry of Health is currently reviewing the Burial and Cremation Act 1964 and Related Legislation. Its primary objective is to modernise the laws and regulations relating to death, burial, cremation, and funerals in New Zealand to ensure they are fit for purpose and meets people’s needs.


Criteria to assess options

Ministry staff are using four criteria to assess the policy options to ensure they use a consistent approach when selecting our preferred options in each area.


The four criteria are:

  • Criterion 1: Any changes to the law should be proportionate and effective in addressing identified problems (including risks to the public and environment).

  • Criterion 2: Any changes to the law should not impose unnecessary or unjustified compliance costs.

  • Criterion 3: Any change to the law must be flexible and able to respond to future shifts in technology and consumer preferences as far as possible.

  • Criterion 4: Any changes to the law must consider tikanga Māori, other cultural or religious practices, as well as the dignity of the deceased and those who remain.

The scope of this work

The work relates to all these areas:

  • Death certification and auditing

  • Regulation of the funeral services sector

  • Burial and cemetery management

  • Cremation regulations and the medical referee system

  • New methods of body disposal.

An initial consultation document was released in 2019 which looked at different options. Submissions were called for through 2020.    Our submission is here. A national consortium of funeral guides also put in a submission.

A summary of all submissions is on the Ministry website.

We are pleased to see the Ministry has responded to many of our concerns. They have reassured us that the way funeral guides practice will be protected as changes are made.   We are however concerned that the consultation with Māori has not been as robust as is needed to ensure they have a strong voice.

We understand that the Ministry will be doing some additional consultation before they produce a Cabinet paper, which may be at the end of this year or early 2023.

Interested in having your views heard?
Contact the
Ministry of Health's Burial and Cremations Team:
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