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How cremation works

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

Crematorium locations

Auckland Council operates crematoria at three main cemetery sites:

You can enquire directly or go through a funeral director for more information.

How to book a cremation

Once you choose a location for the cremation, you need to complete the relevant cremation forms.

Get a copy of the cremation forms

Submit your cremation forms

Email your completed cremation forms to the relevant cemetery or memorial park:

You can also take your completed cremation forms to the relevant cemetery or memorial park during office hours.

Things to know about 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 (easy to burn). If you are unsure, we can provide a list of approved materials.

Flower arrangements

Flower arrangements can be cremated with your loved one, but bases of any sort (like green foam blocks) cannot be included.

You or your funeral director must remove bases before cremation takes place.

Prohibited items

We need to prevent the risk of explosion, and the release of carcinogens and fumes during cremation.

There are some items that you cannot place with your loved one when you are preparing them for cremation.

You or your funeral director must remove the following prohibited items before cremation takes place:

  • alcohol and carbonated drinks
  • animals
  • ammunition or explosive material (like batteries, electronic devices/mobile phones, pacemakers, guns and bullets)
  • books or excessive amounts of paper
  • die cast metals, aluminium and copper (large items only)
  • flags
  • flower arrangement bases
  • gardening equipment (like spades, forks, etc)
  • glass
  • illegal substances
  • mattresses
  • money or jewellery
  • motorcycle helmets and leather
  • pitch/roading materials (like tar, bitumen, asphalt, resin)
  • picture frames
  • polystyrene or products containing polystyrene foam
  • prosthetic limbs
  • PVC in all forms (includes footwear like gumboots made from PVC and rubber)
  • sawdust
  • soft toys (over 300mm length)
  • sporting equipment (wet suits, surfboards, golf clubs)
  • volatile products (like aerosol and flammable containers, lighters, etc).

Viewing the charging of the casket

Families who want to view the casket being charged (placed) in the cremator need to let us know 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 for 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.

Verify the deceased

Before a cremation can take place, the cremator operator must:

  • verify the identity of the deceased
  • make sure the details on the casket name plate match those on the official cremation documents.

These checks are required under 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 cannot be opened without the signed approval of the applicant or funeral company.

The casket is then transferred onto a purpose-built insertion trolley.

Handles are only removed if they:

  • will hinder the cremation process, or
  • if they 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.

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