How to refer a death to the coroner

In general, the medical practitioner or nurse practitioner attending a patient during their final illness completes a medical certificate of cause of death. There are occasions, however, when the health practitioner is required to report a death to the coroner.

A death is referred to the coroner in accordance with the Coroners Act 2006, section 14.

Use Death Documents to report a death to the coroner if the deceased was 28 days of age or older at the time of death. To report the death of a baby less than 28 days of age, in hospital, complete a Hospital Record of Death (HROD) form and phone the Duty Coroner on 0800 266 800.

Criteria for referring

Refer to the coroner when the death:

  • appears to be without known cause, self-inflicted, unnatural, or violent
  • occurred during, or appears to have been the result of, a medical procedure and was medically unexpected
  • occurred while the person was affected by an anaesthetic and was medically unexpected
  • occurred while a woman was giving birth, or that appears to have been the result of her being pregnant or giving birth
  • occurred in official custody or care (including being subject to mental health legislation)
  • as the doctor or nurse practitioner, you are not prepared to issue a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death under section 46B or 46C of the Burial and Cremation Act 1964.

For more information:

To discuss a death with the National Duty Coroner:

Read more on the Coronial Services of New Zealand Purongo O te Ao Kakaauri website.