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Auckland Council

How cremation works

More than 30,000 people die each year in New Zealand and 70 per cent of them choose cremation.

​The casket

Your loved one can be cremated in either a casket or a shroud.

A shroud is a cloth to wrap the body, which is then placed onto a wooden board or shroud bearer.

All materials must be combustible – if you are unsure, we can provide a list of approved materials.

Flowers and personal items

Not all funeral decorations can be cremated with a loved one.

Floral arrangement bases (oasis), metal, rubber, glass and plastic cannot be cremated.

Flowers arranged using oases will be separated and included in the cremation.

Viewing the charging of the casket

Families who want to view the casket being charged into the cremator need to give us notice no later than midday, the day before the cremation.

There is a charge for this service.

Time of cremation

Cremations are generally carried out on the same day as the funeral service.

In accordance with Ministry of Health regulations a casket can be held up to 48 hours in a refrigerated holding room.

One cremation at a time

Only one person is cremated at a time.

However, in the case of a parent and baby or twin children, you can ask for approval to share a casket.

Verification of the deceased

Before any cremation takes place the cremator operator will verify the identity of the deceased by ensuring the details on the casket name plate match that on the official cremation documents, as required by the Cremation Regulations 1973.

The cremation process

Following the funeral service, the casket is transferred to the crematorium.

Once accepted by the crematorium staff the casket may not be opened without the signed approval of the applicant or funeral company.

The casket is transferred onto an insertion trolley. Handles will only be removed if they will hinder the cremation process or are made of lead. The casket holding the deceased is then inserted into the cremator.

The cremation chamber is lined with fire resistant bricks on the walls and ceiling. The floor is made from a special masonry compound formulated to withstand extremely high temperatures.

Once the body is in, the chamber door, which is about 15 cm thick, is closed by automated doors. Temperatures within the chamber often reach 800°C - 1000°C.

On average a cremation takes between 1.5 to 2 hours.

Cremated remains or ashes

Cremated remains are commonly referred to as “ashes”. However, all that remains at the end of the process are fragile calcified bone fragments.

Metal debris such as screws and any artificial titanium joints which do not melt down in the process are removed using a magnetic wand.

Ash containers

Cremated remains are transferred to a cremulator that processes the bone fragments to a fine granule type consistency.

The remains are transferred to a named sealed container ready for collection.

Unclaimed ashes

Ashes must be collected by the family or funeral company within 28 days.

If ashes are not collected, we may dispose of them (by law).