Survey results reveal financial burden funeral have on Kiwis

New research has revealed the financial burden funerals are having on Kiwi families.

A report by New Zealand Seniors - an insurance group targeting older New Zealanders - found 33.2 percent of people aged 50 or over experienced financial hardship after paying for a funeral, with around 50 percent saying it took longer than six months to recover.

Figures show a standard burial costs $9244 while the cost of an average cremation is $5177.

Most Kiwis want to save more, with 90 percent looking to spend less on funerals.

"They're struggling on how to keep a roof above their head, how to feed themselves, keep the heating on the idea of putting money aside for funeral expenses is simply something they can't comprehend," says Age Concern Auckland chief executive Kevin Lamb.

That's certainly the case with the survey showing only 31 percent of Kiwi seniors have funeral arrangements in place. It found about a third thought they should pay for their own funeral, but a third believed partners should foot the bill.

Funeral director Chris Foote from The Natural Funeral Company says many struggle to talk about or plan for death, so families are left scrambling to pay the costs after. She says some people are now keeping things simple and want a more celebratory tone.

"It's more taking the funeral into a party so there's always been that traditional sausage roll, asparagus sandwich and a cup of tea but now it's at home, it's parties, it's celebrating with music," Foote says.

"People may particularly ask everyone to wear a favourite colour that the person liked. We had a funeral recently that was all orange."

Almost 70 percent of people are being cremated while more than 30 percent are buried. 

For those choosing a coffin, Foote says many no longer want the flash, expensive ones, with a $520 cardboard option now a popular choice.

"They don't want to spend money on a coffin and they want something that's eco-friendly," Foote says.

No one can avoid death, so Foote says it's time we talked about it.

"It's a huge transition from being alive to being dead.

"We have to deal with our not existing anymore."