Before the Funeral



The care and respect that Whitestone Funerals gives to the person who has died begins from the time they are transferred into our care. All our funeral team are fully trained in conducting the transfer in a dignified and caring manner whether the place of death is in a private home, hospital or more public place.

This standard of care continues right through the entire process of the funeral preparations.

When you advise us of the death we will ask you whether we are able to carry out our normal preparations. At this stage we are seeking your verbal approval for us to begin embalming.

Our embalmers take care of the preparation of the person who has died. At all times the person is cared for as if they are one of our own family members: with full dignity and care. We attach a great deal of significance to the preparation for a viewing; the dressing and grooming are a very important part of the process.

The end result of mortuary care is that the person who has died is presented in a safe, clean and hygienic way.

Whitestone Funerals is proud of its high standard of service for the repatriation of the person who has died to any other centre in New Zealand or any other country in the world. We have a modern mortuary and professionally qualified embalmers available to meet the exacting standards required by transportation authorities. We are skilled in attending to all documentation required.


As part of our care and respect for a deceased person, we have developed various options to allow for ‘light embalming’, which limits the amount of chemicals used in the embalming process. We use New Zealand-made Eco products for washing the person who has died. Alternatively we offer the choice of no embalming. There are no legal or mandatory requirements in New Zealand for embalming. We will be pleased to talk about the consequences of any choices for the funeral that you are organising and the full range of options available.


Clothing and Dressing

Before you spend time with the person who has died, we will ask you to bring in the clothing you would like them to be dressed in. When deciding on the clothing to be worn, remember to include all undergarments.

We will normally dress the person and place them in the casket. On some occasions, in accordance with cultural considerations or personal wishes, the family may choose to either dress the person who has died or assist us in this process.

Time Together

Many people find it helpful to spend time with the person who has died before the funeral. This special time is an opportunity to say goodbye.

This time together can assist in the grieving process as it allows people to begin to accept the reality of the death of the person. It can be a time to place mementos such as cards, letters, small gifts, photos, flowers and other significant objects in the casket with the person. We have the ability for families to visit at our premises.

Some families choose to take the person home or to another venue, and they will spend some days with the person who has died. We are happy to make arrangements that fit with your wishes and that are at a time suitable to all family members.

Children benefit from being included in the preparations for a funeral. Visiting, seeing and touching someone they love can be a positive experience as it allows them to say goodbye and helps them to accept the reality and finality of death.

Historically children were not involved in the funeral process. Today most experts would agree that children should have the same opportunity to view the person who has died and to attend the funeral if they so wish.

We encourage visiting at Whitestone between 8.30 am and 5.00 pm, Monday to Friday. You are welcome to visit outside these hours by organising a convenient time with your funeral director.

Symbols, Music, Flowers and Donations

Using carefully chosen symbols in a funeral service can enhance the significant aspects of a person’s life, and help create a very personal atmosphere for the service. Photos and flowers add to the ambience as well.


You may wish to consider the following as possible symbols to include in the funeral service.

  • A flag draped over a coffin, the playing of the Last Post, and the red poppies used in the Returned Services tribute speak to us of a person’s contribution to his or her country.
  • A flag may be symbolic of the person’s country of birth.
  • Academic, sporting or community achievement awards tell us of other achievements in a person’s life.
  • Art, craft, other artefacts and hobbies show additional dimensions of the person whose life is being honoured.
  • Candles are generally recognised as a universal symbol of love, light and hope. Candle lighting during the service is always a poignant ritual.

Newspaper Notices

We will assist you to write a notice for the newspaper if you would like us to. Below is an example of what you may wish to consider.

Smith, Robert Henry (Rob) Regt No 7564,
Sgt, 2nd NZEF – on 26 June 2020
Peacefully at home, aged 87 years.
Dearly loved husband of …
Loved and respected father and father-in-law of …
Much loved grandfather of …
Loved brother and brother-in-law of …
Loved by his nieces and nephews.
Special thanks to the hospice staff who cared for Rob over the past months. Your support has been greatly appreciated.
(You may wish to thank specific people who have been outstanding in their help to you and your family.)
Rob’s funeral service will be held in Whitestone Funerals Chapel, 54 Weston Road, Oamaru at 11.00 am on Tuesday 30 June followed by a private cremation.
In lieu of flowers, donations to ABC charity would be appreciated. (If you would like people to send flowers, do not include the statement about donations.)
Messages to the Smith family may be posted c/- 54 Weston Road, Oamaru 9012. (If you are concerned for security reasons to use your residential address you can use our address and we will forward mail to you as it arrives.)
Whitestone Funerals, FDANZ


If you are using pallbearers, 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 pallbearers.