Funerals in Norfolk Island
After the family notifies the radio station of the passing of a loved one, the radio will play the first of two types of announcements:
- The death notice
- The funeral notice
The death notice is preceded by playing the Pitcairn Anthem and is played throughout the day of the passing of the person.
The funeral notice is preceded by a piece of island music and announces the day and time of the funeral service, whether it is graveside only, or a church service and then graveside service. This notice also includes wreathmaking arrangements.
As soon as the death is announced, flags are adjusted to half mast.
Flags remain at half mast for the day of the announcement.
Flags will again fly at half mast on the day of the funeral.
Wreaths were traditionally made at the home of the family of the person who has passed away, using flowers and leaves from the garden. Today, wreaths are made in what we call: ‘the usual place’ – a private shed on Cascade Road.
Many family and friends in the community drop off buckets, baskets and boxes of flowers and greenery.
The mound of soil beside the newly dug grave is usually decorated by friends of the family on the morning of the funeral.
The coffin and wreaths are placed reverently by the pall bearers into the hearse at the hospital. If there is a church service, the coffin and wreaths are taken to the church just prior to the service.
If leaving the hospital, direct to a graveside service, family members and friends follow the hearse with their car lights on.
Any other vehicles approaching the hearse should pull over and stop as the hearse and car procession passes.
Cyclists should also pull over, stop, dismount and remove their helmets.
Walkers should stop, face the road, remove hats and stand still.
Respect is also shown with retail stores closing their doors as the funeral procession passes.
At the cemetery, everyone gathers outside of the gates until the hearse and family arrive.
Order of Service sheets are distributed prior to the hearse arriving and/or at the cemetery gates as mourners enter.
While each family will have a different kind of funeral service, according to the requests of the person who has passed away, a traditional funeral usually includes the following:
- A hymn
- An RSL tribute is given for veterans
- Laying of flower tributes on the coffin (as led by family)
- The committal (lowering of the coffin)
- Pitcairn Anthem
- Family departs graveside and gather at the cemetery gates
- Family receives expressions of comfort and compassion by the community as they leave the cemetery.
Hymns & Music
Some families choose to have recorded music playing at different times throughout the service e.g. as the family enters the cemetery; during the laying of flowers; and as the family leaves the cemetery.
A few of our traditional favourite hymns include: “In the Sweet By and By”, “I come to the Garden”, “Ship of Fame”, “Gethsemane” or “Let the Lower Lights be Burning”…
Some families invite the ukelele group or other local musicians to play favourite songs as tributes.
Some families prefer to have no music or hymns except for the Pitcairn Anthem at the end of the service.