The duty of a pall bearer is to assist in the carriage of the casket into and/or out of the funeral venue. In New Zealand, we usually carry the casket at arm’s length, with the arm stretched downward and holding onto the casket handle. In some countries, the casket is carried on the shoulder of each pall bearer and while this method is used here in New Zealand, it’s usually for a State or military funeral or for someone very important.
It’s customary for friends or family members to act as pall bearers though you may choose to ask people who belonged to the same club, sporting or social group as the deceased person. Six people are usually required to carry the casket, though this number could be less if the casket is small. In the case of a very large person, eight pall bearers may be required. It’s appropriate to formally invite the people you want as pall bearers. It is considered a great honour to act as pall bearer and can be the source of upset if someone who should have been asked is overlooked.