Ashes still unclaimed

16:00, Mar 10 2014
Davis Funerals
FORGOTTEN POPULATION: Davis Funerals managing director Craig Little holds a box of ashes in front of the memorial grove area at the Davis Funerals Henderson site where the remaining unclaimed ashes will be buried in April.

The death of a friend is always tough to deal with.

So much so that people sometimes forget to collect the ashes of their loved ones.

It is a common occurrence, Davis Funerals managing director Craig Little says.

His funeral home has 427 unclaimed boxes of ashes sitting on shelves at its sites in Henderson, Mt Eden and Pakuranga.

Among them are 45 boxes belonging to West Auckland residents and dating from 2005 to 2010.

Mr Little says it is like a "forgotten population" and he is urging family members to claim the ashes.


"Sometimes I think people have an ‘out of sight, out of mind' approach," he says.

A letter was sent to all families of the deceased last October and recipients have until March 31 to claim the ashes or let the funeral home know what they would like to happen.

Mr Little says ashes can be unclaimed for a number of reasons.

"Part of it is the number of options available now and the expense of it."

A single burial plot costs almost $700 and $13,800 will buy an area that fits six ashes boxes - suitable for a family plot.

To buy a private tree is almost $2000, and a memorial seat costs about $2300.

Scattering is the cheapest and most common option, Mr Little says.

"You can go to the bach or take them out on a surfboard.

"It's a really nice and flexible way but it doesn't give you a tangible place to visit and for some that's really important."

Family misunderstandings, sibling disagreements or second-marriage situations are also common reasons why ashes lie unclaimed.

"Sometimes it's just busy lives and people get forgotten," Mr Little says.

Other times it is just "too hard".

Davis funeral director Jason Taane says: "We ask what they would like to do with the ashes and allude to what we can do and help them from there."


Davis Funerals gives families five interment choices:

Bury ashes in an existing grave of family significance.

Bury in the ashes section at any cemetery.

Insert into a niche wall, similar to a memorial wall at any crematorium.

Scatter in sacred ground of any cemetery.

Return to the family to scatter.

Remaining ashes will be buried in the memorial grove area under an outdoor seat at Davis funerals in Henderson.

Call 835 3557 or email to collect ashes. -

Western Leader