The obesity epidemic is forcing New Zealand funeral directors to introduce larger caskets and look for larger plots for burials. Big people are creating bigger problems for funeral directors and cemeteries.
South Auckland's Manukau Memorial Gardens is now planning to open an area with larger plots, in response to the obesity epidemic.
Former All Black and now funeral director, Va'aiga Tuigamala, says the problem is widespread. He told Newstalk ZB suppliers are having to change their casket sizing, to meet demand, an extra large or oversize casket is now considered a medium to small casket, he said.
Bigger caskets and plots are also putting cost pressures on families planning funerals.
NZ Funeral Directors Association president Tony Garing said the size of the standard coffin had increased as obesity rates soared.
Caskets are getting wider to accommodate people, so it is the width that is the issue, he told new agency NZPA, adding the standard coffin was now 58 centimetres at the shoulder, up from 48 centimetres.
Noelene Mudgway, manager of Auckland's Manukau Memorial Gardens, said cremation was not an option for some families saying their last farewell to a super-sized loved one.
Our cremators aren't wide enough to take people who are severely obese, she said.
Mudgway said the cemetery tried to accommodate large coffins by burying them in plots at the end of a row, where they would not encroach on other graves.
One-in-four New Zealanders is obese, according to the health ministry, rising to almost two-in-three among the country's Pacific Islander communities.