18 Nov 2013

Discussion on honouring the dead harmoniously

7:21 pm on 18 November 2013

How the dead should be honoured and the role of funeral directors are just some of the issues being raised at hui to discuss changes to burial and cremation legislation, The Law Commission says.

A number of themes are emerging at the hui, such as which urupa the person should be buried in and how to deal with arguments over the way they should be honoured, commission legal and policy advisor Mihiata Pirini says.

A better outcome can often be achieved if funeral directs tell a family to come back when they have reached a final decision, rather than listening to the first whanau that expresses their opinion, Ms Pirini says.

However, they are in a difficult position because if a request is made and there is no reason to question the family further, then they will act on their wishes. If there's a risk of dispute then it will normally give a funeral director pause to think, she says.

It's also important for Maori to use a local service as the director will often know the relationships which exist in that community.

Ms Pirini says other issues raised include concerns around the custody of bodies, burial on private land and the difficulties of burying a body in the family grave

Another nine hui will take place during the next few weeks.