Chapter 1

The need for reform

1.15In the course of this consultation we formed the view, as we demonstrate in this Report, that the Act is no longer fit for purpose and should be replaced by a more modern statute. The problems tend to fit into two broad categories. First, the Act has not aged well. Many of its provisions are overly prescriptive to a modern reader, and it is difficult for people affected by its provisions to understand their powers and obligations. Also, it does not fit well with recent legislative developments such as the significant reforms in the Resource Management Act 1991 and the Local Government Act 2002.

1.16Second, the Act does not reflect some of the more modern values and principles that New Zealanders consider are important in this area. For example, we found an increasing desire for more choice in burial and cremation arrangements. This desire is driven both by an increasing emphasis on personal autonomy in burial decisions and by our increasingly diverse cultural landscape. We found strong support for the legislation to recognise and permit people to exercise their cultural, religious and ethnic customs through post-death rituals and decisions. This particularly includes recognition of tikanga Māori and legislative amendments that allow for its operation after death, where appropriate. Finally, we found a growing trend for more environmentally friendly options for funerals and the disposal of bodies and, in particular, a strong trend towards eco-burial options.