Burial, Cremation and Disinterment

Health Protection Officers maintain surveillance of, and provide information and advice to ensure the appropriate application of the Burial and Cremation Act 1964 and Regulations on behalf of the Ministry of Health. Some of the HPOs responsibilities under burial and cremation legislation include:

  • Disinterments
  • Establishment of new crematoria
  • Closure of cemeteries and burial grounds
  • Burial in a special place or at sea
  • Repatriation of deceased foreign nationals who have died in New Zealand
  • Appointment of medical referees
  • Investigation of illegal burials


A disinterment is the unearthing of a grave to remove a coffin or remains of a deceased person. It requires a special licence from the Ministry of Health that your apply for through the Health Protection Team. An HPO will also observe the disinterment.

A link to download the Te Whatu Ora - Health New Zealand Guidelines for  Disinterments and Disinterment Licence Application Form are found under Resources.

Establishment of new crematoria and closure of cemeteries and burial grounds

If a new crematorium is to be built, or an existing premise reconstructed or adapted to be used as a crematorium, the following have to be submitted for approval to the Ministry of Health before work is commenced:

  • Plans and specifications for the premises (including a site plan)
  • Details and specifications of the equipment
  • Any Council approval documents

Applicants should consult with a HPO as early as practicable, to enable a report to be submitted at the same time as the other information for the Ministry of Health.

Upon application for closure of a cemetery or burial ground, the Minister of Health may direct that a cemetery or burial ground be closed.