A Tauranga funeral service believes it is the first in the New Zealand to offer cremations at a cost low enough to be fully subsidised by Work and Income's funeral grant.

Hope Family Funeral Services at Pyes Pa can cover the full cost of cremation for $1925.34 - the maximum grant available to those who meet the criteria set by Work and Income.

"The main reason we can do this is because we own our own country funeral home, reducing our overheads dramatically," Tony Hope said. The funeral home is owned by Richard and Dorothy Hope and two of their sons, Tony and Ricky.

The low-price cremation has also been made possible through the sourcing of New Zealand-made cardboard caskets by Tauranga woman Glen Matassoni.


Tony Hope said the public would be surprised how many people qualified for Work and Income's funeral grant.

"We've just seen a need out there - and more so today than ever before. You don't have to be a Rhodes Scholar to work out there's a lot of people on the breadline."

Richard Hope said the fully subsidised cremations were only available to those who died in hospital. Others were still eligible, but an additional doctor's fee, up to $100, applied.

Age Concern Tauranga chief executive Mike Tyrer said the concept was "a good initiative" on the part of the funeral service.

"If they can bring the cost down, older people would benefit greatly," he said. "There would be a great interest with certain members, I'm sure, while obviously some people would be flush enough to go to the expense."

In the 2009/10 financial year, 91 Work and Income funeral grants were handed out in Western Bay and 407 in Bay of Plenty. In the last financial year, the totals reached 97 for Western Bay and 367 for Bay of Plenty.

Eligibility criteria include:

The person receiving the grant must be the partner, spouse, child, parent or guardian of the deceased person


- or arranging the funeral of someone with no partner, spouse or child.

The grant is income- and asset-tested.

The test depends on whether the deceased person has a surviving partner or dependant child or if the deceased is a child.

The deceased must usually have lived in New Zealand.