Burial and cremation processes and procedures

One of the choices families and friends need to consider is the sort of memorial they would like for the person who has died. This should be taken into account when deciding which cemetery to use.

Purchase Exclusive Right of Burial

Cemetery plots can be pre-purchased, rather than leaving the task for relatives or friends. Any Funeral Director can organise it for you, or you can contact Nelson City Council 03 546 0200

Booking Interments

Normally arrangements for an interment are made just before burial. Funeral directors can arrange the plot and make interment bookings on your behalf, as part of their service.

All burial plots other than natural burial plots are dug to a double depth unless otherwise specified. This allows for later burial of another loved one in that plot.

Standard interment hours are between 10.00am and 3.30pm, Monday to Friday (except public holidays). Interments requested outside of these hours will incur an additional charge.


There is no requirement to place a headstone on a grave and some people leave this for many years. The Council can supply records of burial plots for people who want to place a headstone for someone buried several years ago.

Historic cemeteries

The Council maintains the Hallowell Cemetery in Shelbourne Street, the cemetery in Fairfield Park, a small group of graves on The Cliffs and the Quakers' Acre above Rutherford Street.

How to apply for a cremation

Although most funerals are arranged through funeral directors, some people like to make their own arrangements. The documentation can be quite complex so if you are not used to administration you may prefer to reach an agreement with a funeral director or your solicitor for this side of it. Council has prepared a booklet to assist families with the process of arranging a cremation directly with Council: Cremation Guidelines for Families Arranging a Cremation (1.1MB PDF)

The following forms are provided in order to make application for cremation:

Form Who needs to complete this form?
Form A - Application for a cremation (96KB PDF) Usually a relative or executor of the deceased
Form B - Certificate of Medical Practitioner (106KB PDF) A Medical Practitioner who is currently registered with the Medical Council of New Zealand
Form AB - Certificate in relation to pacemakers and other biomechanical aids (89KB PDF) A Medical Practitioner who is currently registered with the Medical Council of New Zealand
Form F - Permission to cremate (91KB PDF) A Medical Referee

Once forms A, B and AB are completed, all papers need to be presented to an appointed Medical Referee who will complete Form F.  Medical Referees can be contacted through the Medical and Injury Centre, 98 Waimea Road, Nelson.  Phone (03) 546 8881.

Weekend Cremations

Please note that for weekend cremations, the crematorium operator is unable to accept application forms for cremation. They must be received by the cremation registrar, who will then instruct the crematorium operator that they can proceed with the cremation.

Urgent Cremations

An urgent cremation is one that needs to take place urgently for the reasons of religious requirements, health risk or decomposition factors and not simply for the convenience of the family. The decision about whether an urgent cremation is required is made by the cremation registrar or delegated deputy.

Other memorials

Some people prefer to donate a tree or park bench to be placed in one of the city parks as a memorial. This can be arranged with the Recreation and Community Services Department, by contacting Customer Services.

Name plaques are not permitted. Generally council staff will be able to tell you what is available for this type of memorial, to fit in with council landscaping plans, but again they are prepared to discuss special requests.

Who to contact

For information about burial or cremation services, contact your local funeral director. They also keep copies of the Council's Cemetery Bylaw and can explain them to you. For all information about cemeteries, location of graves and Council bylaws and regulations relating to the operation of the cemeteries and crematorium, contact customer services on +64 3 546 0200.