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Having to dig deep to meet the ultimate price

 

It costs $2448 to be buried in urban Masterton cemeteries. PHOTOS/Emily Ireland

Dying is proving to be a pricey task, with the Work and Income Funeral Grant failing to cover burial costs in Masterton.

The Funeral Directors Association of New Zealand is now calling on the government to urgently increase the $2280.70 funeral grant to make burials affordable for low-income families.

As of July 1, it costs $2448 to be buried in urban Masterton and $2720 in rural Masterton.

But even Masterton’s figure is far below the national average burial cost of $4000.

This figure only includes the cost of a plot and burial.

It does not include other funeral expenses, which bring the average bill to $8400.

Funeral Directors Association of New Zealand chief executive Gillian Boyes said Maori and Pasifika families were disproportionately represented among those applying for the Work and Income grant, and it was these families for whom burial remained the preferred funeral option.

“Our funeral directors have significant concerns about the wellbeing impact of them not being able to farewell their loved ones in a culturally appropriate way,” Boyes said.

The Association raised the issue of the inequity of the current Funeral Grant amount prior to the 2022 Budget but only recently received a response from the Minister, she said.

“We were told the grant amount would be considered as part of the welfare overhaul.

“But progress on that to date has been glacial.

“With costs that funeral directors can’t control going up like this, we can’t wait.”

The Association has suggested a fairer amount would be $6300, close to the Funeral Grant allowable under ACC.

“This is not a handout going to all New Zealanders. It is designed for a small group of the most vulnerable who are already struggling with significant post-covid cost-of-living increases.

“Our funeral directors have to sit in front of these grieving families and tell them they probably can’t have the funeral they want.

“It’s deeply unfair on both families and on the funeral directors.

“Fixing this problem is not a big fiscal ask but can make an enormous difference to individual families.”

South Wairarapa and Carterton burial costs came within the available grant.

It costs $1750 for a plot and burial in South Wairarapa and $1850 in Carterton.

The Association took a sample of 17 councils and found Taupo had the lowest burial costs [$1150].

New Plymouth had the highest [$6552].

The biggest increases from 2020 to 2022 were seen in Tauranga [48 per cent rise] and Nelson [37 per cent]. – NZLDR

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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