Details of state funeral being decided on

By David Fisher

Officials are meeting today at the Department of Internal Affairs to plan the details of Sir Edmund Hillary's state funeral.

Strict protocols are set down for a state funeral - although the family's wishes are always foremost.

The conference will also include the New Zealand Defence Force, senior police staff, a Cabinet representative and staff from Parliamentary Services.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs staff will also be involved, as will Internal Affair's special VIP transport services and its ceremonial affairs office.

The meeting aims to establish official books of condolence - like that already set up in Parliament - floral tributes, and a photographic or video record.

Defence would be called on for an honour guard, if required, and also a gun carriage on which to carry Sir Ed's casket, if that meets family wishes.

Either police officers or defence personnel will be available as pallbearers, unless the family wants their own, which is likely.

Other details to be ironed out include seating arrangements in the church, the order of service and who will read which eulogy.

Finally, the meeting will establish whether Sir Ed will be taken on one final tour of Auckland before finally going to his rest.

Oddly, the templates for state funerals do not anticipate one being held outside Wellington.

The last state funeral to be held was for David Beattie, former Governor General, in Wellington in 2001.

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