12 May 2020

Level 2 cold comfort for wedding planners, funeral directors

1:32 pm on 12 May 2020

Rules that allow people to burst bubbles, but only in groups of up to 10, will mean very little for mourners hoping to attend a funeral, those planning a wedding, and church services.

Groom's putting a wedding ring on the bride's finger

File photo. Photo: 123rf

Under level 3, funerals and weddings were already subject to a 10-person limit.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's advice to those planning a wedding was "hold off".

Paula Bevege, a wedding and event planner, told Morning Report there were very few weddings going on at the moment.

"Mostly, people are postponing until next season now or later in the year. There are lots of couples hoping we'll be ready to go by October."

Bevege said the flow on effect of cancelled weddings is devastating to venues, dress makers, caterers and more.

"The average wedding in New Zealand is $40,000 and that doesn't take into account the hundreds of guests that are going to the wedding as well."


Francis Tipene, the director of Tipene Funerals in Auckland, said it was absolutely disappointing news.

"It was a blow to the industry, but more so to the families who were looking forward to having funerals."

Tipene said some families have held off on holding funerals until the level 2 restrictions were announced, but now funeral homes can't continue to hold onto the bodies.

He acknowledged that funerals were events with a lot of hugging and touching.

"I can see it's very risky and I understand where the government's coming from. But, other than being a funeral director, I should have been a policeman. I've become quite good at keeping people apart."

One solution Tipene has found and is advising families is to take their loved one home and allowing 10 people at a time to visit and pay their respects.


Gatherings on marae are also restricted to 10 people.

Christine Panapa, chairperson of Te Mahurehure Marae in Auckland, was hoping marae would be able to fully reopen, but acknowledged they need to play by the rules.

"If it's only to be 10 people, then so be it."

She said her marae is a busy place and has more than 10 people alone to just prepare it for visitors.

"When we have groups in the marae, there are a lot more than 10. So, it's going to be very difficult for us."


Churches and other places of worship will be able to open their doors on Thursday.

But a limit of 10 people for gatherings outside of the home has quashed hopes for a return to the traditional Sunday service.

The government previously suggested that up to 100 people would be allowed to gather under alert level 2.

Chris Bethwaite is the National Administrator for the Elim Church of New Zealand.

He told Morning Report a call was put out to the Elim Churches to prepare for reopening, but after it was revealed only 10 could attend they've decided to continue with online services.

"It's just easier to carry on with what we've been doing. The church is more than just buildings and more than just being able to meet together. Yes, it's unfortunate we can't come back together again, but at least with the move we'll be able to get out into the community more and help with food and other care that people will be needing."

Bethwaite said online services have been going really well and they've seen an uptick of new people tuning in.

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