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Government supports replacing Burial and Cremation Act in principle

21 April 2016

The Government supports in principle a recommendation by the Law Commission to replace the outdated Burial and Cremation Act 1964.

The Government has released its response to the Law Commission's report, Death, Birial and Cremation: A new law for contemporary New Zealand.

The Commission submitted its report to the Honourable Amy Adams, the Minister responsible for the Law Commission on 23 October 2015.

It wants the Act replaced with a new statute to modernise the law around deaths, burials and cremations to improve the process for determining, certifying and notifying deaths and to ensure the law better reflects the wishes of New Zealanders.

The Law Commission made 127 recommendations to improve the law in four areas.

Those areas include cause of death certification, cemeteries and crematoria, the funeral sector and burial decisions.

The Government has responded by saying it supports introducing a new statute in principle, particularly when viewed in light of the cross-over of some parts of the Act and the more modern Resource Management Act 1991 and the Local Government Act 2002.

But it says further policy work is required on the detail of any proposed legislation, particularly on its potential impact on local authorities, the funeral services sector and the jurisdiction of the courts.

It says further work is needed before a Government position can be reached on the report's recommendation to regulate the funeral services industry.

And more investigation is also required before a position can be reached on the report's recommendations to introduce new rules around the implementation of burial decisions and funeral arrangements, changing court jurisdictions to allow the Family Court and Māori Land Court to hear disputes rather than the High Court, and to create new offences relating to the disrespectful treatment of dead bodies and unlawful burial.

Last updated on the 21st April 2016