Funeral directors are warning New Zealand could see a rise in violence after thousands of people have been denied the chance say their final goodbyes to loved ones.

It comes as the Government considers whether or not to relax the rules relating to funerals when New Zealand moves into alert level two.

Gary Taylor, president of the Funeral Directors Association New Zealand, said if people were missing out on that stage of grief then they going to have to deal with it further down the track.

"There's a potential that we could end up seeing more violence within our communities and domestic violence where people are not dealing with those emotions."


So far, more than 2000 people have died during lockdown.

Covid 19 coronavirus: How funeral directors care for bodies of people with coronavirus
Covid 19 coronavirus: Dozens of bodies found in trucks outside US funeral home
Covid 19 coronavirus: Funeral directors give tips on how to grieve when funerals are banned
Funeral Q&A: What does Covid-19 mean for funerals?

And because of the level 4 and 3 restrictions, the families of those 2000 people have not been able to properly grieve.

One family's lasting memory of their son, after a suspected suicide, was his body being removed from their home – he was not given a funeral due to the lockdown restrictions.

Taylor - who spoke in front of the Epidemic Response Committee this morning - said the ramifications for refusing families of funerals was huge.

"Funerals are the beginning for us to start to heal after the death of someone.

"The way that we deal with grief is to come together with the person who has died, spend some time with them, go through that transitional period of knowing them in a physical sense to treasuring their memory."

One incident Taylor was aware of involved gang members refusing to accept the rules and deciding to take the casket home.


"In the end police had to get involved to negotiate with a resolution with them."

Subscribe to Premium

He said funeral directors were at great risk of being put in dangerous situations because it's a time when emotions run high and it can be extremely difficult to tell someone they can't say goodbye to their loved one.

"I've told our members that we are not the police and cannot enforce the rules. At the end of the day, there's only so much we can do and there have been times when families refuse to accept the rules."

Taylor hoped that the Government would trust funeral directors to apply compassion and common sense where they see fit.

"We told the committee that we would need five days to prepare for any changes so we are hoping to hear back tomorrow." The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website