For many years the New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists has offered a comprehensive celebrant service to its members, as well as to the wider public.

Our non-religious funerals, weddings, and naming ceremonies have filled a much-needed gap and offered a meaningful alternative to church services. Now we can also offer civil union ceremonies.

Our experienced celebrants are able to give sound advice on the many facets of each type of ceremony they perform, while being understanding and compassionate about your needs.

Our desire is to see that you receive the best service possible. For further information contact our Celebrant Service Coordinator Hema Paterson on 021 140 5911, or contact the NZARH office on 09 373 5131 or at

Humanist and Secular Celebrants – for Marriages, Funerals, Rites of Passage


Hema Paterson (celebrant co-ordinator)

(021) 140 5911

Helen O’Shaughnessy

(022) 466 7971
(Helen is prepared to travel)

Toby Cooper

(021) 212 1021
(Toby also covers the Waikato)


Barbara Shaw

(07) 868 3265

Hawke’s Bay and East Coast

Kim Stainton

(022) 130 8447


Peter Clemerson

(04) 938 5923

Non-Religious Weddings and Civil Unions

Following submissions from the Rationalist Association and others, the Marriage Act was amended in 1976 to provide for secular marriages performed by civil celebrants. Previously weddings could only be conducted by ministers of religion, and those wanting a non-religious service had to rely on local registrars and postmasters.

The Association has nominated civil marriage celebrants in Auckland and other major centres, who are on the Justice Department’s official list.

Our celebrants are authorised to conduct weddings from 6.00 am to 10.00 pm on any day of the week and in any public or private place of the parties’ own preference. The Marriage Act does not stipulate any special form of marriage ceremony, and the Association’s celebrants conduct secular weddings entirely at the wishes of the parties concerned.

Under the provisions of the Civil Union Act 2004 (in force from 26 April 2005) it is now possible for two people to have their relationship formalised by entering into a Civil Union. A civil union can be performed for a same-sex couple, or a heterosexual couple.

The NZARH has a long and respected record of providing non-religious, but meaningful ceremonies to the people of New Zealand. We are proud to have been supporters of the legislation that made Civil Unions become a reality, and to now be able to include them as a part of our service to the wider community. If you have any questions, or you require the services of a celebrant, please contact the NZARH Celebrant Service, (021) 140-5911 or (09) 833-9057, and speak to our coordinator, Hema Paterson.

Non-Religious Naming Ceremonies

Any parents who wish to arrange a secular naming ceremony for their child are welcome to contact us.

Non-Religious Funerals

Death is a traumatic experience for the bereaved family and it is impossible not to be affected by the circumstances.

Many people are not aware that a funeral service may be conducted by anyone – it is not required that a minister of religion should perform this duty.

Our service is designed to give dignity to the occasion, and sympathy to the bereaved family. It is built around the life and activities of the deceased person. The family may have special requests which are always carried out to the best of our ability.

Anyone wishing to arrange a non-religious funeral service may contact us at any time.