File picture: Sibusiso Ndlovu/African News Agency (ANA)

Wellington - As the average New Zealander gets larger, the country's funeral directors are considering charging an additional fee of 200 New Zealand dollars (137 US dollars) for the cremation of oversize caskets.  

Standard cremations take approximately 2.5 hours, but oversized caskets need between 4.5 and 5.5 hours in a furnace, the Hawke's Bay Crematorium Committee said in a council report.

The report for Hastings District Council in the North Island added that an additional fee is needed to cover increased maintenance, utilities and operating costs.

New Zealand has the third-highest adult obesity rate among the members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The New Zealand Health Survey 2016/17 found that about 1 in 3 adults were obese and a further 34 percent of adults were overweight.

New Zealand Cemeteries and Crematoria Collective chairperson Shelley Angus told Radio New Zealand that as far as she was aware Hastings was the first council to look at charging an extra fee for oversized caskets.

"[But] if it wasn't Hastings it would be another local authority who would be doing it and looking at it because ... that's the way that the population is going in terms of size."

Angus said New Zealanders were fatter and taller than they used to be, and buying and running larger cremators was expensive.

Cremations are by far the most popular burial choice in New Zealand with between 70 and 80 per cent.