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Death Without Debt

Press Release June 14, 2024


Death Without Debt Launches National Workshop Tour

Death Without Debt's national workshop tour kicks off 13th July.  The first leg of the tour takes in Blenheim, Christchurch, Timaru, Dunedin, Nelson and Richmond. The North Island workshops begin early July with Masterton, then August dates in Ashurst and Wellington before the tour heads further up the island.

Spokesperson Fergus Wheeler, says the cost of dying is adding to the cost of living crisis and nationwide there is high demand for information on how to organise affordable, dignified funerals.


“The average cost of a funeral in NZ is around $10 000 according to the Ministry of Health. DIY funerals can be done for just over a $1000 if people know how, and official paperwork requirements and funeral industry tactics don't trip people up.”


"We're pushing for the Government to fix the paperwork system, not just because it's stopping DIY, but because the industry is overcharging for it.

"In the meantime people are going broke, so we're getting out there to show them how to run an affordable, dignified funeral as best as possible under the current system. The workshops also serve to get the community talking about the issue with MPs and councillors.

The workshops cover everything from writing a will to probate, and of course cover funeral planning and practicalities.

Mr Wheeler says that if people can talk about death they are half-way there. Communities and marae can ease the way, both emotionally and financially, for the bereaved by establishing networks of people with know-how.

Ultimately, Death Without Debt wants doctors to stop automatically referring families to the funeral industry to get official paperwork requirements done and to instead do it themselves.

“Pre-cremation paperwork in particular has always been a medical responsibility. That's where it all went wrong. Now even registering a death is difficult. That's not healthy – either for the public or the industry - which suffers from a reputation for predation. Good operators don't need that hanging over them”.

Our communities have lost the know-how to farewell the dead ourselves. There is a an economic and psychological cost to that.”

Death Without Debt wants the Health and Disability Commission to explicity include after-death duty-of-care in its 2024 review. Current medical practice violates nine out of ten of the Commission's code of patient's rights. We're hoping to talk to the Commission's local reps while we're in town to flag the issue with them.

Contact: Fergus Wheeler 021 163 3178      022 498 3902

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