Funerals trend towards the unique

Some pay their respects in their back garden. Others chose a send-off in a vintage car.

Funeral rituals vary tremendously and a unique service that respects a person's personality is becoming increasingly popular in Marlborough. From floral displays of vines or vegetables to caskets with unique graphic designs, people are moving away from a traditional church service.

Cloudy Bay Funeral Services Partner Alan Walker said the diverse demographics of New Zealand has contributed to the trend.

"Historically we provided what we thought people needed," he said.

"Now it is about listening to a family's needs. In a service we want an introduction to the person, we want to remember and to be able to say goodbye - all with the upmost respect."

Funeral services are increasingly reflective of the person's life and loves, according to Mr Walker.

"I give families the freedom to think where they feel most comfortable to say goodbye," he said.

"For a vineyard owner it has been appropriate to conduct a funeral on their property - a place where they have worked hard on their dreams and has been the family focus."

Other families have chosen personalised caskets in terms of graphic design, colour and its physical shape, he said.

"We have had willow caskets for the most environmentally grounded person," Mr Walker said.

"There was a logger who passed away and it was his dream to drive a racing car. We painted the casket black with green racing stripes because that was his wish.

"For some it is traditional to have flowers on top of the casket. It can vary from a floral arrangement of vines for a vineyard owner or the little old man who loved his garden might have a an arrangement of vegetables. There needs to be things that speak of that person."

There has also been a move towards digital presentation at services to "mark memories", according to Mr Walker.

He said a Blenheim man with a lifelong love of motorcycles received a fitting send-off when his beautifully restored 1200cc Honda Goldwing led his hearse. Others have chosen unique transportation to reflect their employment, including a logging truck, a goods delivery vehicle and a vintage car.

The Marlborough Express