What to do when someone dies
If someone in your whānau dies:
- Contact the health provider or doctor of the person who has died.
- Contact a local funeral director if you want to use one.
Choosing a funeral director is an important decision to make after someone dies. You do not have to use a funeral director if you do not want — you can organise everything yourself if you want to. If you decide to use a funeral director, we recommend this being be one of the first things you organise.
If the person has died from:
- an unknown cause, a post-mortem will need to happen. Their health provider will help you in the first instance, and the police may be contacted
- a known health issue, their health provider will talk to the funeral director when you’ve appointed one — the funeral director will pass on this information
- COVID-19, their health provider will support you with information on what to do next.
Where you can go for more information
- Ministry of Health advice on deaths, funerals and tangihanga (external link)
- Information after a death — Te Hokinga ā Wairua End-of-Life Service (external link)
- Funeral Directors’ Association of New Zealand (external link)
- Funeral and burial advice from the Office of Ethnic Communities (external link)
Where you can go for mental health assistance
You might not be able to say goodbye to a loved one, in the way you’re used to, and this could be very challenging.
Read through the basic advice on mental wellbeing and call or text 1737. Talk with a trained counsellor, for free, anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Funerals and tangihanga at Alert Level 1
There is no limit on the number of people who can attend a funeral or tangihanga at Alert Level 1. Organisers do not need to register with the Ministry of Health to hold one.
We encourage you to print off and display NZ COVID Tracer app QR codes at funerals and tangihanga to help in contact tracing.
Stay safe at Alert Level 1
At Alert Level 1, we still need to play it safe. We all need to be ready in case COVID-19 comes back into the community.
To be ready at Alert Level 1:
- practise good hygiene
- stay home if you’re sick
- get tested if you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms
- wear face coverings on public transport and domestic flights
- keep track of where you’ve been and who you’ve seen.
Funerals and tangihanga at Alert Level 2
At Alert Level 2, up to 100 people in each defined space can attend a funeral, tangihanga, kawe/hari mate or unveiling ceremony/hura kōhatu.
Social gathering rules apply to funerals and tangihanga held at:
- funeral homes
- churches, mosques and other faith-based institutions
- hired venues or facilities
- private dwellings.
Organisers do not need to register with the Ministry of Health to hold a funeral or tangihanga.
The organiser legally must ensure that contact tracing requirements are met.
If you're attending a funeral or tangihanga
- Do not attend the gathering if the number of people is more than 100 in a defined space
- If there are people at the gathering you do not know, make sure you scan the QR code or give your details to an organiser.
We recommend avoiding physical contact such as harirū, hongi, kissing, and hugging except if you:
- live with them
- are whānau
- close friends.
A defined space is a single indoor or outdoor space separated from other spaces.
If a place has more than 1 defined space, then people should not intermingle between the defined places. This includes when entering, leaving, or using the toilet. It does not include workers.
This also applies to separate businesses that work from the same location.
An indoor space is a single space if there are walls that substantially divide that space from other spaces. The walls can be permanent or temporary.
An outdoor space is a single space if there:
- are walls that substantially divide that space from other spaces — the walls can be permanent or temporary, or
- is at least 2 metres between all people in that space and any other people (outside that space).
Funerals and tangihanga at Alert Level 3
Gatherings of people create a very high risk of transmitting COVID-19.
Funerals, tangihanga and burials are allowed at Alert Level 3, but are limited to 10 people or under. The 10 person limit includes kaikaranga, kaikōrero, members of the clergy or staff who are attending.
Formal tangihanga involving large gatherings cannot take place at Alert Level 3.
Up to 10 people in the same bubble may go to view the tūpapaku, the person who has died, by appointment with the funeral director. Other whānau can view the body by appointment, but only in groups of up to 10 from the same bubble.
Talk with your funeral director about specific arrangements, including how to maintain physical distance. They can guide you on the best options for your situation, which may include livestreaming or video so others can take part in the service remotely.
No food or drink can be served, and physical distancing should be maintained between people.
If you're attending a funeral or tangihanga we recommend still keeping 2 metres apart from people not in your bubble. You’re strongly encouraged to wear a face covering.
At Alert Level 3 you can visit a cemetery in your region, if you can do so safely while maintaining a physical distance from people not in your bubble.
The general guidance for avoiding physical contact, including harirū, hongi, kissing, and hugging, remain in place.
Bereaved families and whānau from all cultures and backgrounds will find this time challenging. This makes it even more important that we show each other kindness and caring, manaakitanga and aroha.
Travel for funerals and tangihanga at Alert Level 3
At Alert Level 3 there are strict restrictions in place for travel between regions. This is necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
If you need to travel into or out of a region at Alert Level 3 for a funeral or tangihanga you will need to apply for an exemption.