Planning the Funeral service

At Dil’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’re 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, and the like.

What if I don't want a funeral?

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 absolutely fine with us.

When we first meet, we’ll 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 and catering for a memorial service, 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’re 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 don’t 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.

We have seen many times where family left behind feel like they have missed out by not having a funeral service, even though they are respecting the wishes of the deceased by not doing so.
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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 Director’s 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’ll 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.

While burial is the more traditional and is often chosen for cultural or religious reasons, cremation is the most popular option today (around 80% of the funerals we conduct are followed by cremation).

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 our chapel or another 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.

Over recent years, committal services have become less common largely due to the additional time taken and the inconvenience of moving to another venue and dealing with Auckland traffic.

Schnapper Rock Cremations

Schnapper Rock Cremations is our own private crematorium located at our North Harbour Chapel. Operating our own crematorium allows us to extend the care we offer families. This means that you don’t have to involve a third party in the cremation process which provides additional confidence knowing that we’re looking after this for you too.

Our cremator has an adjacent viewing room which also allows greater flexibility for families that might want to witness the casket being placed in the cremator or have other cultural requirements.


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’s standard practice for the vast majority 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’ll give you all the information you need to make an informed decision.

At Dil’s, our embalming is carried out to the highest level of skill and professionalism. 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.

Clothes, Dressing and Viewing

Before any viewing is possible, you’ll need to select a casket and provide us with clothing you’d like your loved one to wear. If you’d like to help dress them or add any personal touches we’ll 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.

Viewing at our premises is anytime between 8:30 am – 5:00 pm Monday to Saturday. If you wish to view outside these hours please make an appointment by phoning us on +64 9 415 8720.

What to do with the 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
  • Scatter the ashes
  • Keep the ashes

What is best for you depends on personal choice.


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.

Most cemeteries have special areas set aside for the interment of ashes and in most instances you may choose the plot. These areas can include options such as gardens, lawn areas, and trees. Most ash plots make provision for two interments and a memorial to mark the plot.


Ashes may be scattered in selected areas at the cemetery, or at another location that perhaps has special meaning for the deceased. You’re 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.

When ashes have been scattered you may still wish to have a memorial of some sort. Options may include a Memorial Wall Bronze Plaque or ash plot at a cemetery.

You don’t have to have the ashes scattered or interred in the cemetery grounds to have a memorial there.

Keeping 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’s completely acceptable to do this.

To look at the wide range of urns we have available, click here.

Price Information

The cost of a funeral depends on your choices and preferences. Our fee for professional services, the cost of the casket and the other expenses for the funeral vary according to the services you select and use. Before we can give you an estimate of costs specific to your needs we ideally need to meet with you to talk through your options and find out exactly what you are looking for. We are always happy to have this initial meeting with you at no obligation and if after meeting with us you don’t want us to continue as your funeral director that is your decision.

A funeral invoice is usually made up of three sections. The casket, our fee for professional services and other charges which might include; flowers, catering, cemetery or cremation fees, paying the celebrant or minister, service sheets, slideshows, and other AV requirements, newspaper notices, paying doctors and the like. We think it is important to recognise that as funeral directors we often make payments on your behalf to a number of third parties involved in the funeral process so our invoice is not exclusively the cost of using our services. Rather, we offer you the convenience of only having to worry about one invoice at the end of the process rather than having multiple accounts to settle.

Our professional services fee is our charge for the services provided to you. This fee varies based on the specific services you use. The range of services available to you includes; meeting with you to make arrangements, overseeing and completing the many tasks required to be done in the lead up to the funeral service, liaising with third parties such as the celebrant or organist, attending the funeral service, looking after any legal requirements such as registering the death. It also covers the cost of having our team available to you 24 hours a day seven days a week and the overhead costs from providing the exceptional facilities we offer. Most of the families we serve use the full range of our services from the moment the death occurs till the burial or cremation, some only need certain parts of our service, and in all cases the fee charged reflects what you have used. Other charges include transferring the deceased from the place of death to the funeral home, embalming and caring for the body, and providing a hearse for the funeral service.

At Dil’s we offer funerals that are tailored to your requirements. We don’t have set packages or try to fit you into a set style of funeral. We want to work with you in creating a memorable funeral and this includes working to a budget if required. Hence, what a funeral costs can vary from family to family. To illustrate this we offer 5 examples of a funeral and how the choices made can vary the cost:

Scenario One

The family want to have a funeral at our North Harbour Chapel followed by a reception in the Lounge. They want a celebrant to lead the service, need service sheets and have a slide show that we prepare for them. The service is going to be webcast for a grandson living in London. They choose a standard casket (the Sterling) and have a basic casket spray for their flowers. They select private cremation. They are expecting about 100 people. One notice is placed in the newspaper. Following the cremation the ashes are scattered at a special place by the family.
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Scenario Two

The family want the service at their local church, led by their minister. After the funeral service everyone will say goodbye at the hearse before it drives off for a private cremation. Refreshments will be served in the church hall and these have been arranged by the members of the church (we could have provided this service, but the family opted to use the church group). The family choose a simple casket (the Balmoral) with a large colourful casket spray. We prepare service sheets which include the words to the hymns to be sung. They are expecting about 100 people. We place one notice in the newspaper prior to the service. Following the cremation the ashes are to be placed in a simple wooden urn which the family will inter in a plot at the cemetery.
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Scenario Three

The family want a funeral at the local yacht club on a Saturday. The water is important and they want to reflect this in the service. The family want to have the casket at home for several days before the funeral service. The service is to be led by a celebrant and at the end of the funeral service everyone will move to North Shore Memorial Park Cemetery for a burial. After the burial everyone is invited to return to the yacht club for refreshments which includes a few drinks. The family select a dying art casket (Beach Scene). They have a family friend who is a florist and offers to provide the flowers. We provide service sheets, but the grandson of the person who died creates the slide show. We organise AV equipment and sound system hire for the venue. They are expecting about 100 people.
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Scenario Four

The family want a very simple service at our North Harbour Chapel. The service is to be led by a celebrant and a private cremation will follow. They do not wish to have service sheets or a photographic tribute and a grand-daughter will bring flowers from the family garden to place on the rental casket. At the conclusion of the service everyone is invited to the local RSA to share some time together. Later the family will collect the ashes to take home. They are expecting about 100 people.
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Scenario Five

The person who died didn’t want to have a funeral. They didn’t want to cause any fuss or bother for those left behind. Wanting to respect this decision the family opted for a no service cremation. This meant, after meeting with the family to determine their wishes, that we collected the person from the rest home where they died, brought them back to the funeral home, placed them in a very simple casket (the liner), took care of all the legal requirements such as gathering the medical and cremation documentation and permissions, registered the death, and then proceeded with the Direct Cremation. There was no viewing, no notice placed in the paper, no flowers, no service sheets. It would be our hope as funeral professionals that this family despite not having a formal funeral service would find an opportunity to do something on their own to mark this life. This could be as simple as gathering together at home and sharing memories, or going out to dinner as a family or having a memorial service at another time.

Under Scenario Five options exist for the family to have viewing, spend time with the casket, or have a memorial service at a later time. In such instances our professional service fee is different to reflect the additional services used.
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Terms of Payment

Our invoice is usually sent to you the week following the funeral and is due for payment five weeks from the date of death.

We happily accept payment in a variety of ways; cash, cheque, Internet Banking, Eftpos, Visa or MasterCard.

At the time of making the funeral arrangement you will be required to sign our Financial Agreement and Authority Form which forms our contract with you and in doing so you accept financial responsibility for the payment of our invoice by the due date. If you need more time to pay for the funeral extended credit can be arranged, but this comes with additional cost.

With every funeral we provide an estimate of expenses outlining what we expect the funeral to cost based on the decisions you have made.

It is important to us that every family we serve has a positive experience and that there is clarity and transparency around what we are doing and how much it will cost you.

Download our current price list