Funeral Options

Planning the Funeral service

At Harding’s we believe that the funeral service is a critically important event following any death. It’s a time to gather together, to remember and celebrate. However, what this event actually looks like will vary greatly from person to person. From a small and intimate farewell, to a large and highly personalised celebration, we believe we have the expertise and experience to deliver any type of funeral service.

When planning a funeral there are no real rules to follow and only a few legal requirements, so the possibilities are endless: you are limited only by time and imagination.

Some essential decisions need to made so you can structure a funeral around them, for instance; where the funeral is to be held, whether there will be a burial or cremation, who will lead the service, the choice of a casket and requirements for registration of the death.

There are also many personal choices which can be selected to further enhance the experience. These include, notices in the newspaper, viewing options, flowers, music, service sheets, audio visual presentations, whether there will be refreshments after the service.

Every funeral is different. Some families are more than happy to leave all the arrangements to us, others only want us to be there in a supportive role. Whatever you want is fine with us.

When we first meet, we will outline everything that we can provide or organise for you. Then you can simply pick and choose. If you just want to use our chapel facilities, if you want us look after the paperwork and provide a direct cremation, select a casket and have us prepare the body for a tangi, bring someone home who has died overseas, or send the deceased back to their home country, that’s no problem at all. We are here for you and nothing’s too much trouble.

Direct Cremation

A direct cremation is exactly what it sounds like. The cremation takes place directly following the death without any funeral service or other ceremony being held. In these situations, we collect the deceased from where they have died, provide a casket, complete the required paperwork, register the death and organise the cremation.

Direct cremation is often chosen because “I don’t want any fuss” or to make things easier on those left behind. Others find modern funerals, with a high level of personalisation, too elaborate and complicated, and do not reflect the simplicity of their life.

Our experience tells us that having no funeral service is not always as straightforward a decision as it might seem. Before locking in the choice to have a direct cremation we would recommend that everyone affected by this decision is considered and, if possible, involved in the process.

Options do exist to have something less than a funeral service but more than a direct cremation. For example, the funeral service could be made private so that it remains small and intimate and only those personally invited attend, or you might decide to have a small viewing before the cremation takes place and use this as a time to say goodbye, or a memorial service might be held after the direct cremation has occurred at some later time.

Ultimately, whatever you decide we will respect your choices and help in any way necessary.


When someone dies overseas, or in another part of the country getting the person home for the funeral service creates additional layers of stress and complication to the funeral process. We have experience in repatriating deceased persons all around New Zealand and throughout the world and are confident we can meet the specific challenges and requirements each situation presents. As members of the Funeral Directors Association of New Zealand we also have a strong links to a network of funeral homes around the world and are well connected.

Burial or Cremation

One of the first decisions we will ask you to make is whether the funeral is to be followed by burial or cremation. This is mainly because different documentation is needed depending on the decision made.

Burial – Families may choose a burial plot. Most cemeteries have a variety of areas and memorial options, with varying prices. It’s worth looking at all the options before making a decision on a particular plot.

Cremation – When cremation is chosen it’s usually a ‘private cremation’. This means that once the service has concluded, family and friends will say their goodbyes in the chapel or at the hearse, often by placing a flower on the casket, and then we deliver the casket to the crematorium. With private cremation nobody goes to the crematorium.

The alternative to private cremation is to have a committal service. A committal means that after the main service, which has been held at another location, the funeral then processes to a crematorium chapel where a short ceremony and final goodbyes are held. This allows families to have private time with the casket just prior to the cremation.


Embalming is a medical process which disinfects and preserves a dead human body making it safe for those coming into contact with it. Embalming presents the deceased in the best way possible and allows people to view and say goodbye to a person without the unpleasant conditions that arise from decomposition.

We believe embalming is the best method of keeping the deceased in a presentable state from the time of death till burial or cremation. It is standard practice for most of the funerals we hold and the cultural practice in New Zealand. However, if the person is not to be viewed, you may wish to not have them embalmed. We will give you all the information you need to make an informed decision.

We keep up to date with advances in the art of embalming and ensure that our practice is current with the standards set by the New Zealand Embalmers Association (NZEA). At all times we ensure that your loved one is treated with respect and dignity.

Time Together

Once a loved one dies, spending time with them, either by yourself or with family is important.

You will need to consider if this is to be at the funeral home, or at a family member’s home.  Once someone dies, your relationship with that person alters.  Spending time with them will help you to begin to understand and adjust to that altered relationship.  Time with the deceased prior to the funeral ceremony are precious moments, as there are only a few days in which you can be physically present with your loved one.  Being with the deceased is also a time of remembrance and allows you and your family to recall the memories of life together.

Clothes, Dressing and Viewing

Before any viewing is possible, you will need to select a casket and provide us with clothing you would like your loved one to wear. If you would like to help dress them or add any personal touches, we will make a time with you after we have completed our preparations.

It is our experience that viewing is very helpful in coming to terms with your loss. This can take place at our premises or in your own home.

What to do with our loved one’s Ashes

Many people struggle when it comes to deciding where to place the ashes. The more that time passes the more difficult that decision can become.

When deciding what to do there are basically three options for you to consider:

Inter the ashes- Interment is burying the ashes in a cemetery or some other special place. For some, having a special place to visit and a grave to tend can be very important

Scatter the ashes – Ashes may be scattered at a location that perhaps has special meaning for the deceased. You are usually able to scatter ashes anywhere. However, sensitivity and common sense should be exercised (along with obtaining any permission required) if scattering in a public place, or somewhere that has cultural meaning.

  • Keep the ashes – Ashes may be kept for a variety of reasons. A great deal of comfort may be gained from taking ashes home, and it is completely acceptable to do this. There are plenty of urn options available at Hardings, or we are able to quickly obtain an urn of your choice from our suppliers.


Hardings have a display of urns as you walk in. Cremation is now a popular choice of disposition and many families feel it is a fitting tribute to scatter the ashes of a loved one in a place that was special to them, perhaps a place of natural beauty such as native bush, coastal areas, public gardens or private land. When choosing an appropriate place to scatter ashes it is important to consider how your actions may affect others when making this decision. Please ensure you have permission from the land owners, local authorities or others who may have a cultural interest in the area.

Please also consider when ashes are scattered, it’s not always possible to erect a memorial, for example a plaque or a headstone, in public or privately owned places. It is also important to note that your family may not always be able to gain access to the area in perpetuity.

In some cases it will be necessary to send ashes to other parts of New Zealand or even to other countries to be scattered. When ashes are to be sent to another country, documentation specific to the destination country will need to be prepared in advance. Please let us know if you need assistance with documentation for this purpose.

Burial or Internment of Ashes

Many people are now choosing to bury or inter their loved one’s ashes. Choosing this option means a memorial such as a headstone or plaque can be used to mark a specific place for family and friends to visit on special anniversaries important to them.

Many cemeteries have special plots for the interment of ashes, please contact us if you would like our help or advice on how to go about making this a reality.

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