10.1Legislation governing burial and cremation is found across a number of legislative instruments. The Burial and Cremation Act 1964 (the Act) followed on from the Cemeteries Act 1908 and so has a strong focus on burial. Of particular note, the Act provides that it is unlawful to bury a body in any place other than a cemetery, burial ground or Māori burial ground (urupā) if there is such a place within 32 kilometres of the place where death occurred or where the body has been subsequently taken. While we consider that the general prohibition on burial outside of an approved cemetery or burial ground should continue, in Chapter 13 we examine whether this exception to the general rule is still required.
10.2While the Act makes brief mention of cremation, most of the detailed regulation of cremation is found in the Cremation Regulations 1973 (the Regulations).
10.3In 2009, a number of provisions relating to the doctor’s certificate as to the cause of death were transferred into the Act from the Births, Deaths, and Marriages Registration Act 1995 (as it was then known). We examine the need for reform of these provisions in Part 1 of this Report. The 2009 reform also transferred into the Act a number of general requirements in relation to the burial and cremation of bodies. In particular:
- a doctor’s certificate as to the cause of death is required before a body is disposed of by any method; and
- a person having charge of a body must dispose of it within a reasonable time.
We consider that both of these provisions should be continued in the new statute.
10.4In this chapter we give a general description of the legislative requirements for burial and cremation under the Act and Regulations.