Dunedin burials dead expensive

Grave cost . . . Dunedin Budget Advisory Service executive officer Andrew Henderson inspects graves in the Southern Cemetery in Dunedin on Monday. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

Dunedin is the most expensive place in the South to be buried.

An investigation of cemetery fees charged by 15 councils which manage cemeteries from Christchurch south reveals Dunedin is the most expensive place to buy a plot for an adult and have them buried.

Dunedin City Council manages 20 cemeteries.

The $3843 cost to bury an adult in 15 of those cemeteries is 145% more expensive than the median price charged by Central Otago District Council.

The cost to bury an adult in the five other Dunedin cemeteries – Hindon, Otokia, Waitati, Middlemarch and Purakaunui – is $2382.

Christchurch City places second on the most expensive list ($2740) but is 40% cheaper than the median plot and burial fee in Dunedin.

DCC parks and recreation group manager Robert West said the charges reflected the cost of service delivery and maintenance of the 20 cemeteries in Dunedin.

A review of fees and charges for parks and recreation services and facilities was scheduled for next year, he said.

The council provided financial help for people who could not afford to pay the fees.

Under the Burial and Cremations Act 1964, the DCC could permit the body of any poor person, and any person from any hospital, prison or other institution to be buried or cremated free of charge.

The DCC approved 20 applications for the free service last year.

Dunedin Budget Advisory Service executive officer Andrew Henderson said many people in Dunedin “struggled” to pay funeral costs.

“It’s a difficult time for low-income families.”

Funerals were a big business and he had heard burial costs in Dunedin were expensive.

The cost of funerals had forced some Dunedin families to become insolvent.

Some of his clients had funeral insurance, he said.

“They are worried about leaving a debt for their family so they have this funeral cover they can’t really afford.”

Ministry of Social Development client service delivery general manager Gagau Annandale-Stone said the ministry provided funeral grants to its clients who had no other means with which to meet the costs of a funeral.

The grant was income and asset-tested and was paid out to a maximum of $2030.91.

“While we don’t cover the whole costs of the funeral – actual and reasonable costs only – our clients do not have to pay the funeral grant money back.

“We recognise how the loss of a family member can affect our clients and we want to provide them as much assistance as we can.”

The DCC charges $943 to cremate an adult.