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Samoan funerals crippling grieving NZ families

Bereaved families in the Samoan community are facing severe financial stress dealing with expensive funeral obligations, new reseach says.

Expensive gift giving at Samoan funerals is an important cultural tribute, but honouring the deceased means funerals can cost up to five or six times more than the average Kiwi farewell.

New research shows the practice is becoming increasingly more elaborate and extravagant, and there are calls for the more expensive gift giving practices to be pulled back.

Waikato University researcher Byron Seiuli says some people are going to extreme lengths.

"It's also a way of leaving psychological distress for those who may have to take out family loans or extend a mortgage to meet their financial obligations."

In New Zealand, an average European funeral costs around $10,000-$15,000.

But it's not unusual for a Samoan funeral to run to $50,000 or $60,000, with some Samoans saying even that is not enough.

That's because when the bereaved family are given gifts, they have to give generously back in cash or food, and the family also has to gift to church ministers, chiefs and any other distinguished guest who turns up.