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New Zealand – End of Life Issues

New Zealand has a reputation for providing high-quality end-of-life care, with a range of hospices and palliative care services available to those in need. In this article, we’ll explore hospices in New Zealand, local customs and practices when someone dies, and what to do when someone passes away.

Hospices in New Zealand

Hospices in New Zealand are designed to provide palliative care for patients who are nearing the end of their lives. These facilities offer a range of services, including medical care, pain management, and emotional support for patients and their families. Hospices in New Zealand are often staffed by highly trained healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, and therapists.

There are different types of hospice care available in New Zealand, including:

  • Inpatient hospice care: This type of care is provided in a dedicated facility and is suitable for patients who require 24-hour medical care and support.

  • Home hospice care: This type of care is provided in the patient’s home and is suitable for patients who wish to spend their final days in the comfort of their own surroundings.

  • Day hospice care: This type of care is provided in a dedicated facility during the daytime hours only and is suitable for patients who require medical care, emotional support, and social interaction.

There are several hospices in New Zealand, including:

  • Hospice New Zealand: The national body for hospice and palliative care in New Zealand.

  • Arohanui Hospice: Located in Palmerston North, Arohanui Hospice offers inpatient and home hospice care.

  • Mary Potter Hospice: Located in Wellington, Mary Potter Hospice offers inpatient, home, and day hospice care.

  • Nurse Maude Hospice: Located in Christchurch, Nurse Maude Hospice offers inpatient and home hospice care.

Local Customs and Practices When Someone Dies in New Zealand

When someone dies in New Zealand, there are certain customs and practices that are followed. These customs and practices may vary depending on the region and the family’s cultural and religious beliefs.

  • Death announcement: It is common for death announcements to be placed in local newspapers, announcing the passing of the deceased and providing information about the funeral arrangements.

  • Funeral: Funerals in New Zealand are typically held within a week of the person’s passing. They are often simple affairs, with close family and friends attending. Burial and cremation are both common forms of burial in New Zealand.

  • Dress code: The dress code for funerals in New Zealand is typically formal, with black clothing being the norm.

  • Condolences: It is customary to offer condolences to the family of the deceased. This can be done in person, by sending a condolence card, or by making a donation to a charity.

What to do When Someone Dies in New Zealand

When someone dies in New Zealand, there are several steps that must be taken. Here’s what you need to do:


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  1. Contact the doctor: If the person passed away at home, you need to contact their doctor. The doctor will come to the house and certify the death. If the person passed away in a hospital or hospice, the staff will take care of this.

  2. Notify the authorities: You must notify the local authorities of the person’s passing within three days. This can be done by calling the Births, Deaths and Marriages office or by visiting in person.

  3. Register the death: The next step is to register the death. This can be done at the Births, Deaths and Marriages office, and you will need to bring a copy of the death certificate with you.

  4. Arrange the funeral: Once the death has been registered, you can start making arrangements for the funeral. You can choose to work with a funeral director or make the arrangements yourself.

  5. Decide on burial or cremation: Burial and cremation are both common forms of burial in New Zealand. You will need to make this decision when making funeral arrangements.

  6. Organ donation: If the person had expressed a desire to donate their organs, you will need to inform the doctor or hospital staff as soon as possible after their passing.

  7. Notify family and friends: You should inform family and friends of the person’s passing as soon as possible. You may also want to consider placing a death announcement in a local newspaper.

  8. Cancel services: You will need to cancel any services or subscriptions that were in the deceased person’s name, such as utilities or insurance policies.

  9. Settle the estate: The deceased person’s estate will need to be settled. This may involve appointing an executor, paying any outstanding debts or taxes, and distributing any assets to beneficiaries.

  10. Notify the bank: If the person had a bank account, you will need to notify the bank of their passing. The bank will freeze the account until the estate has been settled.

In conclusion, New Zealand has a strong tradition of providing high-quality end-of-life care, with a range of hospice services available to those in need. When someone passes away in New Zealand, there are customs and practices that must be followed, and certain steps that must be taken to notify authorities, register the death, and make funeral arrangements. By following these steps, you can ensure that the passing of your loved one is handled with care and respect.


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