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Mar 01 2017 1 Comment

A few days ago I found an article in “The New York Times” about a particular club in New Zealand, and I thought it is really interesting and might bring in some new members or even start new clubs in other parts of the country. We think this is a fantastic initiative and is also dead funny - no offence intended there of course... the link to the article is here.

The clubs I found are the Kiwi Coffin Club of Rotorua, the DIY Coffin Club for Hawkes Bay, the Katikati Coffin Club... and the Waitakere Coffin Club.

Dozens of groups have sprung up all across the country, providing retirees with new friends and, ultimately, cheaper funerals. Elderly people in New Zealand are enthusiastically embracing a new pastime: coffin construction.

DIY Coffin Clubs provides inspiration and opportunity to personalize the look of your coffin.

Groups of retirees across the country have formed clubs so they can get together and build their own coffins. They say the activity is cost-saving and helps to combat loneliness.

The original coffin club was founded in Rotorua in 2010 by former palliative care nurse Katie Williams, 77. Since then the model has spread around the country, and there are now a dozen coffin clubs operating in both the North and South Island.

Williams says “Our motto is; it’s a box until there is someone in it. And while it’s just a box, it brings us together.” 

Members of the Hawke’s Bay D.I.Y. Coffin Club meet with friends each Tuesday at a disused sports center to build coffins either for personal use or for charity.

"Preparing your own coffin can be fun and empowering. We decorate our coffins to tell our own story, and the completed coffin can be used as a storage cupboard, bookshelf, table or whatever you can imagine until needed."

The chairman of the Hawke’s Bay D.I.Y. Coffin Club, Roger Terry, left, and Phil Thompson moving a finished coffin. Mr. Terry said the club had 120 members, with mid-70s being the average age.

The Club is win-win for everyone. It gives members a chance to plan ahead, talk about what is coming (even when hoping it is a long time arriving), socialize, help others, save money and to personalize their final resting place.



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  • The Coffin Club originated in Rotorua as the brainchild of Katie Williams. We helped to popularise it in The Shed magazine and it has grown from there. Maybe it will now have an international arm.

    Jude Woodside on

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