Chapter 14

Scattering of ashes

14.11We have considered a number of options for regulating the scattering of ashes after cremation. In particular, we have considered whether regulations under the new statute should be used to provide guidance and national consistency to this practice. As we have described in Chapter 11, there are a number of competing interests affected by the scattering of ashes, including the interests of the family in scattering the ashes in a location significant to the deceased person, the impact of the ashes on plants and the soil and the interests of tikanga Māori when ashes are scattered near a sacred site.

14.12In Issues Paper 34, we did not directly ask about the scattering of ashes by relatives. Nonetheless, many submitters took the opportunity to suggest that there was a need for greater guidance on this matter. We agree that guidance is needed on the appropriate locations for the scattering of ashes so as to minimise problems, including offence to other people and cultures. However, we do not consider that this is a matter that can be controlled nationally. Appropriate limits on scattering ashes will differ from region to region and should be for individual local authorities to determine after consultation with iwi.

14.13This means that the scattering of ashes should not be the subject of a statutory offence. While great weight should be given to iwi restrictions on the scattering of ashes, given the competing interests at play and the impracticality of enforcing a restriction, this is more appropriately a matter for greater education of the public.

14.14We propose that local authorities should develop guidelines for the scattering of ashes in their region. Local iwi groups must be consulted in this process. Auckland Council’s recent guidelines provide a good example.262 The guidelines should be the basis for greater education of the public and should be distributed through local funeral homes. However, nothing in this proposal would prevent a local authority from implementing a bylaw within its region, enforced by an offence and a fine.


R74 The scattering of ashes should not be restricted under the statute.

262Auckland Council, above n 166.