Death and dying in New Zealand

This is the inaugural edition of our new series, Radical Futures, which is focused on future challenges that affect us all. Order your copy here.

We will all die. Yet we don’t talk about death and dying very much. Currently, and for the most part, a small group of people manage death for us behind closed doors. We are increasingly unlikely to know what options are available to us and those we care about. So, how can we prepare well? Are our collective and individual needs being met?

The ways we approach death – as a subject and in our practices – reveal much about our values and how we live. With an increasingly diverse and ageing population, advances in technology and medical care, and the social, economic and environmental challenges facing us, it is important to openly discuss how we plan for death as individuals and as a society. From tangihanga, DIY funerals and new technologies to funeral poverty, this book explores what a good death might mean today and aims to foster honest conversations about death and dying in New Zealand.


  • Catherine Moore (Auckland Cemeteries Manager)
  • Erin Harrington (University of Canterbury)
  • Guy Marriage (architect)
  • Dr Janine Penfield Winters (palliative care doctor)
  • Katie Williams (Kiwi Coffin Club)
  • Kay Paku (funeral director)
  • Dr Kiri Edge & Professor Linda Waimarie Nikora (University of Waikato)
  • Lynda Hannah (Natural funeral guide)
  • Marcus Elliott (coroner)
  • Melanie Mayell (death educator)
  • Philippa Thompson & Polly Yeung (social workers)
  • Dr Ruth McManus (University of Canterbury)
  • Steve Braunias (journalist)
  • Tricia Hendry (grief expert)

Media coverage:

Cover feature article ‘Way to Go’ by Sally Blundell, Listener 2-8 March 2019

Stuff article by Ewan Sargaent on body dissolution, featuring contributor Dr Ruth McManus, 22 February 2019

Book contributor Marcus Elliott with Jesse Mulligan on Afternoons, RNZ, 5 October 2018

Book contributor Erin Harrington with Jesse Mulligan on Afternoons, RNZ, 9 October 2018

Book contributor Lynda Hannah with Jesse Mulligan on Afternoons, RNZ, 12 October 2018

Extract of Guy Marriage’s essay Death Architecture on Idealog, 22 November 2018

Extract of Marcus Elliott’s essay A Strange Thing to Do on the Spinoff, 12 November 2018

Profile of book contributor Melanie Mayell by Philip Matthews in the Press, 20 October 2018

Alison McCulloch’s review on Scoop, 2 October 2018