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About the act
The Burial and Cremation Act 1964 requires that a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner must first certify the cause of death before a body can be buried or cremated. If a health practitioner is unable to certify the cause of death then a coroner must authorise the burial or cremation.
Medical certificates and coroners’ reports are the main source of cause of death information from which underlying cause-of-death statistics are collated. These statistics are recognised as an important objective measure of the health status of the population, forming health policy, monitoring the effectiveness of cancer screening, immunisations and other health programmes and for comparing New Zealand cause of death statistics with those from other countries.
Consultation on modernising death, burial and related legislation is now closed
Public consultation on proposed options for modernising New Zealand's legislation relating to death, burial, cremation and funerals closed on 31 October 2020 and the Ministry of Health is actively progressing this policy review. A summary of the submissions has been published.
The consultation documents and other related information can be found at Death, Funerals, Burial and Cremation: a Review of the Burial and Cremation Act 1964 and Related Legislation.
Births, Deaths, and Marriages (goes to another website)Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM) registers and maintains New Zealand birth, death, marriage, civil union and name change information, and issues certificates and printouts.
Coronial Services (goes to another website)This website will give you a general idea of what you can expect to happen when a death is referred to a coroner.
Death Documents (goes to another website)The digital tool to securely complete and view the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, Cremation and Coroner Forms
End of Life Services (goes to another website)Find information about what to do, and services that might be available to you, following the death of a loved one.
Burial and Cremation Act 1964 (goes to another website)The official Burial and Cremation Act 1964.
Coroners Act 2006 (goes to another website)The official Coroners Act 2006
Cremation Regulations 1973 (goes to another website)The official legislation for cremation in New Zealand.