The Ministry of Health administers the Burial & Cremation Act 1964 & Regulations and delegates duties to regional public health services.

Our duties and responsibilities

The Nelson Marlborough Public Health Service's duties and responsibilities include:

  • disinterments

  • closure of cemeteries

  • establishment of crematoria

  • burial in a special place

  • appointment of medical referees

  • transportation of bodies internationally

  • burial at sea

They do not include the operational activities of cemeteries and crematoria (usually run by councils, trustees or funeral directors).

Refer to Ministry of Health for information about how to handle deceased people in an emergency.



Disinterment is the unearthing of a grave to remove a coffin or remains of a deceased person. It requires a special licence, issued by the Ministry of Health, that you apply for through a region's public health service. A health protection officer must also observe a disinterment.


Transporting a body to another country

Where the body of a person who was visiting New Zealand has to be repatriated, a funeral director may request a certificate from a region's public health service that states the cause of death and the absence or presence of an infectious disease.


Burial in a special place

Most deceased people have to be buried in cemeteries. For burial in a special place that is not a cemetery, the applicant must prove exceptional circumstances, meet strict criteria and gain approval from the Minister of Health.