Budget coffin-maker's first sale is made to measure

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Rotorua budget coffin maker Noel Fraser has made his first sale.

The 80-year-old came up with the idea of whipping up cheap coffins after feeling aggrieved at having to pay $800 for his wife's coffin.

Mr Fraser made himself a coffin for $80 and is now passing on his cheap handyman work for $150.

Mr Fraser has had calls from all over the North Island and yesterday, his first transaction was made - a customer from Rotorua who didn't want to be identified.

"I was going to give him mine, but he was a bit broader than me so I had to measure him up and make one up," Mr Fraser said.

The customer's cousin, who helped him collect the coffin yesterday, said he and his wife were also thinking of being "measured up".

The man, who also didn't want to be named, said coffin prices were "astronomical".

"People on benefits can't afford coffins. When the time comes, I will get one, that's providing this gentleman [Mr Fraser] doesn't go before me."

Mr Fraser's 86-year-old wife, Tam, died last year. She made him promise there would be no fuss, no tears and that she would be be put in the cheapest coffin possible.

But despite that, her funeral cost him $2800.

Mr Fraser has arranged for a friend to "throw" his coffin on the back of his ute and drive him to the crematorium.

Mr Fraser reckoned he was on to a winning market, with 500 people dying in New Zealand each week.

"Think of all the beautifully polished timber that is wasted, just to be burned or buried after a few minutes inspection by mourners."

Rotorua funeral director Keith Osborne said anyone could make their own coffins, on the condition they had the person's name on it and it was lined so that body fluids did not leak out.

Mr Osborne said his firm dealt with many families with home-made coffins, which saved them between $350 to $3000 for New Zealand timber or English oak.

However, he said casket manufacturers provided a guarantee they could hold a certain weight.


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