Living legacies

Frequently Asked Questions

​Frequently Asked Questions

These are some frequently asked questions about natural funerals.
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It is important to consider the environment in all aspects of life. Amongst other things it is our legacy to future generations. By many selfish, greedy and short-sighted means we humans have degraded the environment to such a degree that it is now in serious jeopardy and we must consider sustainability in everything we do. Living Legacies is a call to responsible people to live our lives as if everything matters. This includes the state of our forests, the cleanliness of the air that we breathe, sustainable land use, the ways in which we approach death and celebrate life, and the love and respect we have for each other and the planet on which we live and die. This is our legacy. 

Living Legacies has stocked cardboard coffins in the past but currently does not. See the Coffins page for the range of biodegradable and locally produced, sustainable coffins. If you plan to buy a cardboard coffin from a funeral director please find out where it was made. Unfortunately some coffin suppliers are advertising “Eco-coffins” with no justification, and often it means ‘economical’ (i.e. MDF) rather than ‘ecological’!

Some people in our materialistic society equate money with love, and feel a need to prove their love by spending lots of money, especially at funerals. Sometimes they believe this will help to assuage any guilt they may feel towards the person who has died. However, money is not love. Those who care about our world demonstrate more love by showing that they prioritise the health of the environment in which we all live, and which the next generation will inherit, than by paying thousands of dollars to boost the bank accounts of funeral companies. When this is understood funeral participants are more likely to say, “They really cared about the important things in life” than “What cheapskates!” Talk with your family and friends  – in advance – and they will understand and respect your values.

Anyone can arrange a funeral, and the legal disposal of a dead body, with or without a funeral director. You also don’t need a priest or minister or celebrant unless you choose to. Provided you know what you legally have to do – and not do – you can do it all within the family. Be sure you know what your legal obligations are before you need to know, because it can be difficult to find out at the time.

Today! When you are alive and well is the time to plan. Don’t wait until you are sick or dying because it will be far more difficult then. You could even host a funeral planning party with your friends and/or family to clarify and share your funeral wishes. Then you can live the rest of your life without having to think about it again.

​Read “Living Legacies – a family funeral handbook for an evergreen world” by Lynda Hannah. To order your copy, transfer $35 to Living Legacies, 38 9022 0658517 00. (Or check out the Handbook page.) Also, check with your local council what their resources, policies and bylaws are.

Only in the presence of infectious disease, or if the body is going to be shipped to another country for burial or cremation. 99% of the time embalming is optional.

​Before it becomes a public health hazard. However this could be as long as a piece of string. There are many factors involved in this, including the age and condition of the body at the time of death, the cause of death, the temperature and humidity, and the sensitivity of the mourners to smell. In reality it’s highly unlikely that any body would become a health hazard, but it could certainly become very unpleasant if left too long. As a general rule of thumb a well-cared for, chilled, unembalmed body may be fine for up to a week, or possibly even longer in the right circumstances, but 2-4 days may be more realistic.

​There are many now, including in the main centres of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. Also the Top of the South Island has four, in Motueka, Nelson, Takaka and Spring Grove. Whakatane, Carterton, Taupo, Marlborough, Westport, Invercargill,  Hamilton, Thames, Whanganui, Banks Peninsula, Hastings, New Plymouth, and Otaki also have them, with more opening up all the time! If you’re not sure where your nearest is please contact your local council. And if there isn’t one ask them why not.

​If you’d like to get involved with supporting and promoting natural funerals in Aotearoa there are many possibilities.
~ Talking with friends and family members about your and their wishes for end of life care.
~ Lobbying your local council for the establishment of Natural Burial Parks, if there aren’t enough in your area yet.
~ Educating yourself on your rights and responsibilities around death and dying.
​~ Writing a Will and an Advance Directive and encouraging your loved ones too as well.
~ Gifting copies of Living Legacies to friends and family.
~ Lobbying government for changes to the Burial and Cremation Act 1964, if you believe things need to improve.
~ Feel free to ask questions: