The Funeral

About Funeral Page


The funeral director’s most important role is to make all the relevant arrangements prior to conducting the funeral on the day. The funeral director works with the minister or celebrant to ensure that any of the family’s special requests (e.g. regarding music, flowers, photos, candles) have been met by the time of the funeral service.

Our funeral director will discuss with family members about whether they would like an audiovisual presentation. The funeral director will also arrange for the collection of photos and the music to be used.

The minister or celebrant is ultimately responsible for what happens in the funeral ceremony itself.

This usually involves working with family members to:

  • plan the format of the funeral service;
  • decide who will deliver the eulogy – family member(s) or a close personal friend
  • select music, reading or poetry during the service
  • decide on the use of other symbols such as candles, flowers and photos as required
  • discuss whether printed service sheets are required
  • schedule the audio-visual presentation (if any) in the service.

Funeral Timing

When to hold the funeral is entirely up to you. Some people believe three days after death is the correct timing; however, in law there is no set time. Given the many matters to consider in arranging a modern funeral, it is not uncommon for a funeral to be held five to seven days after death. If necessary it can be held still later to allow people coming from overseas to attend.

We can assure you it is far better not to rush the planning of a funeral. Allowing more time helps you to make clearer decisions. When people are rushed they may forget or overlook matters, leading to regrets afterwards.

Cultural Awareness

The Wellington, Hutt Valley and Kapiti region is home to many different cultures and religions. We have established strong relationships over many years with a wide range of community groups, so you can be assured that we will do everything we can to accommodate your own community practices and protocols.

Given that many of these community groups are small, we have often become good friends as well as the trusted funeral directors within them.

Clergy or Celebrant

If you are a member of a religious denomination, your priest or minister is likely be the obvious person to conduct the funeral service. You may wish to inform the priest or minister that a death has occurred. The funeral director usually makes contact with them to confirm the date and time of the funeral.

Funeral celebrants (male and female) are also available to conduct funeral services. Celebrants can provide a service that is appropriate to the needs and cultural beliefs of the family. The funeral director has a list of celebrants from which the family may choose. We are willing to recommend someone we feel is suitable for your circumstances if required.

If you are wishing to use a celebrant, you may find it helpful to meet with them before the person has died, if possible. In this way the celebrant has an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the person’s preferences in regard to the funeral service.

Pall Bearers

If you are using pall bearers, it is best that you approach these people prior to the funeral service. Many friends will be honoured to assist you by helping carry the casket at the funeral. Asking for this kind of assistance may also be a useful way to incorporate service clubs that the person was a member of, or to involve cousins, nephews and nieces.

The usual way to carry the casket in New Zealand is at ‘arm’s length’. The method of carrying it up on the shoulder, although common in some other countries, tends to be reserved for full military or VIP funerals. However, there is no reason why it cannot be done in this way if that is what the family chooses.

Regardless of which method is used, it is preferable for six people to be available as pall bearers.

Harbour City Funeral Homes