What to do when someone dies

Whitestone Funerals can help you arrange the funeral you want for a loved one, or help make carrying out the wishes of a deceased person easier.

When a loved one dies it can not only be a sad time but also very confusing. Whitestone Funerals can help you through this time and advise and assist you to make the funeral arrangement process worry-free.

We understand death occurs at any time, day or night feel free to contact us on 03 434 8812.

Death at home, hospital or rest home

Whether a death occurs in a hospital, a rest home or at a private home a doctor needs to certify the death by completing a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death. If cremation is decided upon a doctor needs to sight the body before our funeral directors transfer the deceased into our care. A call to us for advice and assistance at this time will help clarify the situation on 03 434 8812.

Accidental death

If the death occurred as a result of an accident and the coroner is involved, a funeral director would be contacted to convey the body to a public mortuary. The family of the deceased will still need to organise a funeral with a funeral director of their choice. They are under no obligation to use the funeral director contracted for the original transfer.

Burial or cremation?

During your first contact with Whitestone Funerals, our funeral director will ask you whether the person who has died wished to be buried or cremated. The choice – burial or cremation – determines the medical certificates we are legally required to obtain.


Whitestone Funerals arranges details for the final resting place and maintains extensive records about most cemeteries in the region.

Cemetery plot search and location is a specialty of ours. Burials can be arranged in any cemetery, either in existing graves or in new plots. When a new plot is purchased we provide a temporary gravemarker.


In New Zealand, cremation is now a widely accepted alternative to burial. Whitestone Funerals attend to all the formalities for cremation.

In Oamaru the cremation will usually take place on the day of the funeral and the ashes become available within 48 hours.

The family can then decide what will happen with the ashes - they can be scattered, buried or divided by the local authority, the funeral director or the family. We can assist in sending ashes to other destinations in New Zealand and overseas or arrange for them to be interred in our own Westview Memorial Gardens.


Only one cremation takes place at a time: one casket and one person are cremated. This means you can be assured that the ashes are only those of your loved one.

Every person is cremated in a casket - due to the nature of the process all the wood completely disappears and the ashes returned are purely bone ash.

A casket is cremated as you see it; some crematoria will remove the handles prior to cremation to assist with control of emission standards.

You may have seen the wording, ‘followed by private cremation’ in funeral notices. This refers to the time when the hearse moves off from the funeral service or is accompanied by family members only.

Ashes are often buried with a memorial for family to visit.

North Otago's only crematorium

Whitestone Funerals operates Westview Crematorium, adjacent to the Chapel and Memorial Gardens. Westview is the only crematorium in Oamaru. Professionally operated by the caring team at Whitestone Funerals. Only one cremation ever happens at a time, and all the ashes are returned to you. Ashes can be interred in our Memorial Garden, another cemetery, or scattered in a place special to you.

If you are interring the ashes or keeping them at home, we can provide an Urn for them to be in.

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