Life's departure lounge is getting a makeover this coming week, with Whangarei's crematorium shut for maintenance.

Maunu Crematorium manager Garry Taylor said the city's state-of-the-art machine, which left "not a lot of change for half a million dollars" when built, had done 3000 cremations without a fault. Now it was time to replace the lining to ensure the machine could continue to hold its heat.

The district council-owned crematorium and chapel had been managed by Maunu Crematorium Ltd for the past six years.

"Before we came here the council had an older, diesel-fired cremator and it would sometimes break down. This cremator has proved to be very, very efficient," Mr Taylor said.


Concurrent work would double the number of car parks for the 45-person capacity chapel.

Mr Taylor showed the Northern Advocate around the facility ahead of the work, and spoke openly about the cremation process.

"We certainly don't want to offend anyone but we do feel very strongly that people should know what goes on. It's an area a lot of people ask questions about," Mr Taylor said.

It took between 45 minutes and three hours to cremate a body, depending on size. Very large people could take up to six hours. Casket materials also affected the time taken.

"Because of the nature of death and dying we don't know when it's going to happen, some days we can do 4 or 5, some days one," Mr Taylor said.

Mr Taylor said across New Zealand between 60 to 70 per cent of deaths resulted in cremation. The process was strictly regulated as it resulted in all DNA being destroyed - there was no way of exhuming the body if evidence of foul play came to light later.

Maunu Crematorium and Chapel would be closed from today until Sunday, October 9.

Your funeral director will be able to advise you on how cremations will still be able to take place during this time.