Disaster Response

Following the funeral professions response during the Erebus Disaster in 1979 a recommendation was received requesting a formal structure be put in place, the NZ Disaster Response Team was the result of this request it was officially formed in the early 80’s.

The team is made up of a:

  • National Co-ordinator, whose role is to co-ordinate and communicate between the organisations involved in the disaster.
  • Mortuary Support, whose role is to obtain chemicals and equipment.
  • Embalming Team Leaders, Embalmers & Assistant Embalmers, whose role is to embalm the deceased persons to a level allowing the funeral processes to take place, and giving due consideration to the cultural and religious beliefs of the deceased persons and their families.
  • Funeral Team Leaders, Funeral Directors & Funeral Assistants, whose responsibility is to manage the funeral support between the funeral companies and Funeral Disaster Response Team, working with the funeral company/companies to ensure that support is offered to assist the running of funeral homes.
  • Logistics Team, which is supplied by the Funeral Directors Association of New Zealand and whose role will be to provide administrative equipment and staff, provide the caskets and transportation co-ordination the repatriation of deceased persons to their destination whether it be within New Zealand or overseas.

The Disaster Response Team have the full use of the profession’s Peer Support Team, who are specially trained industry personnel who will debrief each person involved and offer ongoing support to themselves and their families.

The Disaster Response Team is voluntary and because of this relies on the generosity of both the team members and their employers, as a member of the New Zealand Embalmers Association or the Funeral Directors Association of NZ you may be called upon to assist in any future Disasters.

The Funeral Disaster Response Team has offered assistance to funeral directors who have multiple deaths which may be too much for one company to cope with.

Over the years since the formation the co-ordinator has been invited to join the NZ DVI Team, which is operated under the auspices of NZ Police. Also an invitation has recently been received from Coronial Services to participate with service delivery from their perspective.

The Funeral Disaster Response Team can be called in by any funeral company that is called in to deal with a multi-death event.

Examples of the team’s deployment have been:

  • Erebus Air Disaster
  • Masterton Family Multi Death Situation
  • Cave Creek – West Coast
  • Caterton Balloon Tragedy
  • Christchurch Earthquake

Members are the NZ Funeral Disaster Team are made up of Embalmers who have a current practicing Certificate and have a qualification in Embalming recognised by the New Zealand Embalmers Association and Funeral Directors who hold a current Registration with the Funeral Directors Association of New Zealand.

For more information please contact:
Simon Manning
Harbour City Funeral Home