In life Noni Kenny was intrigued by the idea of telling her own story once she died.

In death, she did it and in the process she stretched the stiff boundaries of the Death Notices just a little.

Noni Caryll Antoinette Kenny, 88, a widow, who had spent most of her life in Auckland, died at home in Northland on Saturday.

She had penned her own obituary, which is published in today's Herald.


"If you are reading this, I must have died!" Kenny's notice says.

She tells of her travels to the Antarctic, the Arctic and other places, her love of music and her supportive family.

Summing it up, she says: "Please don't be sad for me, I've been so lucky in this longish life."

Noni Kenny's self-written death notice online and in today's Herald
Noni Kenny's self-written death notice online and in today's Herald

Daughter Jill, one of two children Kenny had with husband George, told the Herald that she had suggested the idea of a self-written death notice to her mother "and she loved it".

Jill had seen that a friend of hers had written his own death notice and it was published in the Herald last year.

"[Noni] liked that and said 'Ha'. I left her to it and she wrote her own.

"She liked fun ideas and this different sort of obituary tickled her fancy.

"She had a naughty sense of humour. She thought this is right up her alley. She came back with this obituary for herself. All we did was add the end bit giving details of the church service."

"She organised her living will, her will and her death notice - well before she became sick."

"She was always laughing and happy, making fun out of anything, just a good sense of humour. Some of it was naughty. Some people who have been writing to me say she always had a twinkle in her eye."

Angus Brodie, a funeral director at Scotts, which is handling Kenny's funeral arrangements, said it was rare for people to write their own death notice.

He said the Herald had traditionally been "very restrictive" about the layout and content of death notices.

Neil Jackson, the head of direct sales in Auckland for Herald owner NZME, agreed that self-written death notices were rare.

He said death notices had to be restricted because of the need for accuracy and certainty in what was a very sensitive and personal matter. Bogus death notices had to be avoided.

But he added that in a progressive business, "we are always reviewing our policies and making sure they are up to date".

Jill Kenny said her mother became a draughtswoman when she left Epsom Girls Grammar School.

In the 1970s, she studied at the University of Auckland and gained a bachelor of music degree. She played the piano, including for Returned Services Operatic Society performances in Auckland's His Majesty's Theatre, and sang in a number of choirs.

Her father Charles Putt was a town planner for the Auckland City Council and her husband George Kenny was the council's chief architect.

Kenny lived in Remuera for much of her life before shifting to live with Jill and Jill's husband Egon in Kerikeri last November. She died following a short illness.