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 blaring on repeat. The Bay of Plenty has the second-lowest burial and cremation costs in the country, but is it affordable? Funeral services are costing more than some working people make in two months. Cira Olivier reports.
Grieving families are being set back thousands in funeral costs and 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 past five years.
The survey discussed industry trends and prices with 43 funeral directors and 500 New Zealanders nationwide.
The Bay of Plenty had some of the cheapest funeral rates 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.
No flowers, no projector and no viewing.
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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.
A basic cremation in the Bay of Plenty was estimated to cost $2755 while a basic funeral was estimated at $5725.
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No flowers, no projector and no viewing.
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 people 15 years and over in Rotorua District was $26,900.
This meant it would take more than an entire month's paycheck to pay for the cheapest option - or more than 3-1/2 months for a standard burial.
Osborne's Funeral director Richard Fullard said grieving families could be left with financial burdens from high-priced funerals.
"Unfortunately, some families have to change the wishes of loved ones because of the price and opt for cremation."
A combined cost of the plot and burial fee alone from Rotorua Lakes Council cost $2545 and Fuller said while it was fortunate the price of plots did not rise as often as larger cities, it was too much for some families.
"In some cases ... the send off a person deserves may be offset by financial restrictions," Fullard said.
Funerals were important to the emotional wellbeing of society, he said.
"We need them to allow us all a time and a space to grieve and come to terms with the death of someone we love and care for."
An increase in demand for livestreaming at funerals and a rise in training costs had contributed to the rise in funeral prices.
"People are now wanting a more personalised funeral experience which takes more time, energy and skill to create."
A funeral grant is available through Work and Income NZ but an income and asset test will be applied. The most someone could be granted is $2093.31.
Collingwood Funeral Home managing director Todd Gower said it was common for families and friends to contribute to the service fee and assets were also sold.
Gower said catering costs were significant and "can be more than the funeral".
"People say the funeral is so expensive but it's everything," he said.
Directors needed to keep up with costs of suppliers. He noticed more people were pre-arranging their funerals and putting money aside weekly.
"When the time comes, it might not pay for the funeral but it might take the sting out of it.
"If I haven't got the money to buy a Ferrari, I won't buy a Ferrari ... People need to be sensible when it comes to a funeral."
Kiwi Coffin Club Charitable Trust trustee and treasurer Ronald Wattam said the price of funerals was talked about but not something he personally noticed.
The club, which has about 50 members, was designed to open the conversation about death which, Wattam said, was important for preparing for the inevitable both financially and knowing what you want.
Whether it is a yellow coffin, one with flowers, or photos all over it, the "top-of-the-range" lined and customised coffins cost $650.
"We all know we're going to die ... they have an input into their death."
Age Concern Rotorua manager Rory O'Rourke said the price of a funeral would not be a shock if people planned ahead.
• Plain, untreated pine or plywood. A cardboard casket is cheaper if you can source one.
• The body can be wrapped in a shroud instead of a casket.
• Ask that the body is not to be embalmed
• Use flowers from your garden, ask people to bring some or rest personal belongings on coffin
• Self-cater or ask people to bring a plate
• Conduct the service in your home
• Transport the body in your own vehicle
• You can choose not to have a funeral service at all.
The average costs of a funeral
Funeral Director: $2854
Burial fees: $2010
Death Certificate: $26
Newspaper notices: $125
-Source: Citizen's Advice Bureau