Letter to The Beacon Editor

We recently wrote to the Beacon Whakatane to address an article regarding a local funeral collective group. As professionals, we felt the need to clarify a few points. Read on for our response. 

Dear Editor,

I write in response to the recent article in Wednesday's Beacon regarding the Funeral Guides Collective funding received by The Bay Trust. The article raised concerns about embalming, funeral costs, and the practices of local funeral directors. While some viewpoints expressed were concerning, I believe it's important to address them with accurate information.

Firstly, the notion that embalming is inherently harmful to the environment lacks evidence. This traditional practice, used for centuries, offers families the opportunity to see their loved one in a more dignified state, allows time for loved ones to gather, and ensures a safe and hygienic environment for respectful final goodbyes.

Modern embalming utilises a formaldehyde percentage of close to 3%, meaning a typical embalming process uses only around 30ml of formaldehyde in a 10-litre solution. To put this in perspective, formaldehyde is present in everyday items like clothing, building materials, and even household paints. Suggesting such minimal amounts pose a significant environmental threat is misleading.

The article also referenced a national average funeral cost of $10,000. While this may be true in some regions, it's not representative of the Eastern Bay of Plenty. Here, funeral costs are highly dependent on the family's chosen options. At our establishment, and I believe at many others, we prioritise working within families' budgets to create a meaningful farewell that honours the deceased while remaining financially accessible. And for 80% of our funerals, we assist the family with applying for the Funeral Grants.

Funeral providers in the Eastern Bay of Plenty have a well-deserved reputation for excellence. Both providers boast qualified staff, 24/7 service, and well-maintained facilities to serve our community with pride and professionalism. We regularly encounter families facing financial limitations during this difficult time. Our approach is one of guidance, support, and understanding – we treat them as our own, never exploiting their vulnerability.

Finally, it's perplexing why a local charity would allocate funds to a group promoting misinformation that potentially jeopardises local businesses. I urge readers to seek accurate information from reputable sources when making funeral arrangements. Local funeral homes are committed to providing compassionate, professional services that meet the specific needs of each family.


Bradley Shaw

Gateway Funeral Services