Our second year

Broadbent & May was established November 2011 in Brooksbank House on Haining Street – close to Moore Wilson and the new Lighthouse Cinema on Cuba.

Families meet at our offices to plan funerals over a cup of tea or glass of wine and congregate to dedicate hours to painting and decorating coffins with children’s artworks, photographs, handwritten messages and ‘bling’.

For those comfortable to do so, we encourage full participation in all stages of the arrangements; dressing, placing in the coffin and loading the coffin into the hearse. There were squeals of delight as young (supervised) grandchildren activated the remote to open the garage door. No part of our office has been off limits.

Every funeral has had personal elements; favourite scorched almonds were passed around at one service – gorse cuttings were used as a final floral tribute for a Scot and individually tied bouquets of herbs for a passionate cook. Guests remembering an intrepid traveller and retired postal worker were asked to write a final postcard on blank cards with vintage stamps.

A number of families capably led their own ceremonies. We suggested potential formats and provided them with resources to create their own fitting services.

Venues have ranged from a cinema to chapels, churches and homes. Family and friends carried their son’s coffin over a kilometre from a home-garden funeral to his local beach for a blessing before being interred at Makara Cemetery. Another brought their grandson home in their own vehicle to rest the final days before his funeral.

Dogs were present at a number of funerals this year, acknowledging their importance in the family dynamic. Generally well behaved, they were a welcome distraction and comfort.

We are pleased to be supporting New Zealand’s natural coffin makers. Some families took the opportunity to meet directly with Alan and Sebastian of Down to Earth on Thorndon Quay – the coffin was then no longer an anonymous box but a final vessel created by local craftsmen.

We appreciate the attentive and professional service given to our families by the staff at Karori, Makara and Whenua Tapu Cemeteries and Crematoria.  Whether the family were there on reconnaissance, present on the day of the funeral, burial or committal or during subsequent visits, families commented on how friendly and knowledgeable the staff were.

We continue to blog on relevant topics, including an approach by a final year Massey Industrial Design student. Her project, ‘Life Topography’ was  thoroughly researched and beautifully realised enabling a terminally ill person the opportunity to reflect and create a digital and sculptural legacy. We think this is a revolutionary concept which could influence the future of our mourning practices.

We are following with interest the review of the Burial and Cremation Act which calls for submissions by the 20th of December 2013.

We encourage you to have your say and help shape the future of our death rites in New Zealand.