Funerals are a day to celebrate loved ones. Who they were with the people who loved them. Their favourite food, a slideshow that makes you laugh and cry, that song they had on repeat blaring. The Bay of Plenty has the second-lowest burial and cremation costs in the country, but even then, funeral services are costing more than some people make in two months. Cira Olivier reports.
Grieving families are being set back thousands of dollars in funeral costs and are increasingly opting for cremations as a more affordable option to farewell their loved ones.
A report by New Zealand Seniors found funeral prices had increased 34 per cent for a basic burial and 36 per cent for a basic cremation in the last five years.
The report found the Bay of Plenty had the second-lowest burial and cremation costs in the country. At an estimated $2755 in the Bay of Plenty, a basic cremation is the cheapest service option while a basic burial is estimated at $5725 in the region.
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The report broke down the cost of a funeral into three subsections: Basic, standard and premium.
Basic was the simplest type and usually included a service, standard was middle-of-the-range usually including a chapel service and flowers, and premium was top of the range usually including a chapel service, a celebrant service, flowers, newspaper notices, a memorial book and audio-visual presentations.
Estimates for a standard cremation and burial were $4516 and $8210 respectively while premium cremations and burials were estimated at $7299 and $12,282 respectively.
The 2013 Census found the median yearly income for Tauranga people 15 years and over was $27,100.
This meant it would take more than an entire month's paycheck for the cheapest option - and more than three-and-a-half months for a standard burial.
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Five hundred New Zealanders over the age of 50 and 43 funeral directors around the country were surveyed for the report, discussing trends and prices in the industry.
Jones & Company Funeral Services director Chris Andrews said about 20 per cent of funerals were direct cremations, more than double what it was 10 years ago.
A direct cremation - when a person is transported from a place of death to be cremated - is the cheapest option at $1800. There is no service.
The teacher-turned-funeral director had been in the industry for two decades and said the increasing cost of running the business, as well as plot prices, affected funeral trends and costs.
A combined cost of the plot and burial fee alone from Tauranga City Council cost $3093.
"[Funerals] seem too expensive ... that's why cremation is more popular because immediately in Tauranga, there's a $2000 saving."
The most money possible to set aside for a prepaid funeral was $10,000, and $20,000 for couples for funeral-related savings only.
"It used to be really hard to get to the price with an average funeral when I first started ... [now] you get to $10,000 really easily, especially if it's a burial."
A funeral grant is available through Work and Income but an income and asset test would be applied. The most someone could be paid was $2093.31.
In the last four years, Bay Cremation Care funeral director Alastair Black said there had been a rise in the number of people opting to be cremated which "must be down to the cost of having a burial".
The price of a cremation increased a standard $10 each year and Black said the business, which contracted their services rather than having a building, could work to keep prices down.
Coffin Club Katikati founding member John Russell said pricing was a major factor in stress around funerals.
The primary purpose of the club was to open discussions and normalise death and dying as well as offer a chance for people to make their own coffins.
Fifteen club members died this year and the membership sat at 243.
"Families are vulnerable and because they haven't thought about it or planned it, they go for the best and it could cost an arm and a leg," he said.
Russell said if people talked more about death it would give people a chance to prepare financially for those left behind.
"If I pass away, I don't want my grandchildren rushing up ... I've had a wake on my 70th birthday and I heard all the eulogies," Russell said.
The average costs of a funeral
Funeral Director: $2854
Burial Fees: $2010
Death Certificate: $26
Newspaper Notices: $125
-Source: Citizen's Advice Bureau