Daily Mail – Rebellious seniors build personalised coffins

By Yael Brender

In a small town in New Zealand, a group of creatively rebellious seniors have found a way to combat the high cost of funerals.

‘The Coffin Club’ is a crazy, unique community organisation where elderly people build and personalise their own coffins, calling themselves ‘makers of fine, affordable, underground furniture’.

Its members recently joined forces with Loading Docs to produce a hilarious musical documentary about their mission.

More than 60 active members attend weekly workshops to ‘rejoice in life while facing the realities of death’, making sure that drab funerals are a thing of the past.

‘What’s the point of living a life that’s colourful and bold…And then you’re told this is how your exit’s going to be? Boring!’ sings founding director Katie Williams, 77.

‘What do you do when the music stops, when you’re on the way out, but there’s mounting costs? All for the price of a stupid wooden box!

‘So we stated a club to make coffins of our own, and save some cash, and my! How’s it grown!’

Founder Katie Williams, 77, who is a former midwife and hospice nurse, has inspired like-minded seniors to start their own clubs all over New Zealand.

‘I had seen lots of people dying and their funerals were nothing to do with the vibrancy and life of those people,’ Ms Williams told The Guardian last year.

‘You would not know what they were really like. That they had lived and laughed and loved. I had a deep-seated feeling that people’s journeys deserved a more personal farewell.’

‘You build a box. It’s a resting place to sing your song. It’s the final verse, but life goes on!’

People can decorate their coffins exactly the way they like; one man has plastered pictured of Elvis Presley all over his, while others have painted theirs with landscapes or covered them in newspaper.

The original coffin club, which has been active for over a decade in Rotarua, make home-made and personalised coffins go for just NZ$250 a pop.

‘In fact, we’ve ruffled some feathers,’ says Ms Williams gleefully in the video. ‘But we won them over in the end, and they couldn’t help but love us!’

In addition to building their own, the group also work hard to construct baby caskets which they donate to the local hospital free of charge.

A similar group recently popped up in Tasmania, and it’s clear that the idea is spreading.

The Coffin Club is a part of a brand new collection of 3 minute documentaries. The rest of the Loading Docs are available to watch for free at loadingdocs.net.

Tattooist who suffers from cystic fibrosis becomes the unlikely master of Tātatau – a traditional Polynesian tattoo method that uses BONES instead of a needle


  • Croc Coulter, a heavily tattooed Englishman living in Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, is dedicated to the art 
  • Tātatau tattooing is the process where the skin is struck with handmade tools of bone or tusks, and ink 
  • This method creates tattoos of elaborate symmetrical patterns or designs that are steeped in tradition 
  • Mr Coulter has taken on an apprentice Moko Smith to help pass on the revered Cook Island custom  

An English tattooist is the unlikely master of the traditional Polynesian art of Tātatau and he is dedicated to passing on the revered Cook Island tradition.

To ensure the method continues Croc Coulter, a heavily tattooed Englishman from Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, has taken on a new apprentice and is passing on his knowledge.

Tātatau tattooing is the process where the skin is struck with handmade tools of bone or tusks, and ink to create elaborate symmetrical patterns or designs steeped in tradition.

Read more

The woman who has spent the past TEN YEARS in a blindfold: Sufferer’s rare illness causes her excruciating pain when she is exposed to sound and light


  • Gina, who is in her mid-40s, has been bedridden in New Zealand for years
  • Extremely rare genetic disorder affects her eyes, ears, larynx and joints
  • She can only communicate through the use of a touch alphabet system
  • Her tragic story is the subject of a new documentary by Loadings Docs
  • She is desperate to get voluntary euthanasia legalised in New Zealand

This woman has been forced to live blindfolded in her dark bedroom with headphones over her ears ever since a crippling genetic disorder took hold of her body.

Gina, who is in her mid-40s, has been bedridden in her New Zealand home for several years due to an extremely rare illness that affects her eyes, ears, larynx and joints.

Sound and light cause her body further damage and Gina is unable to talk – she can only communicate through the use of a touch alphabet system.

The condition, which she has had for a decade and doctors haven’t been able to explain, has made it impossible for her to participate in every day life.  Read more

From poverty to the penthouse: Homeless who are living like kings in mansions and hotels abandoned since Christchurch earthquake

daily-mail-logo-vector1A group of homeless people are living like kings after taking up residency in abandoned mansions and luxury hotels in the wake of the Christchurch earthquake three years ago.

The earthquake killed 185 people and severely damaged the New Zealand city in February 2011.

But the homeless population who previously slept on the banks of rivers and on the streets say the devastating natural disaster was the best thing that could have happened to them.

‘After living on the street for 20 years, we’re now tasting what it’s like to live like kings. We’re sleeping in fancy sheets, drinking champagne and living in mansions… and we’re f****** loving it,’ one the men said.  Read more