Practical matters after a sudden death

Our helpful guide After a death: Dealing with practical matters provides information and advice on a wide range of practical matters you are likely to need to attend to after a sudden death.

Some financial assistance might be available. Our Support Workers can talk with you about some financial assistance that might be available. You can call us 24/7 on 0800 842 846 to be connected with a Support Worker.

What you need to do when someone dies is a government site also offering key information and practical things that you may need to attend to after the death of a loved one.

For some families, whānau, and communities, a ceremonial blessing of the site where a person has died is an important step in helping them come to terms with the tragic loss of life. It is an acknowledgement of the spiritual impact of the tragedy on so many people. It commends the spirit of the person who has died and respects the dignity of them, and of their family, whānau, and community.

A blessing usually includes a simple prayer or karakia. For Māori, a blessing can include a clearing of the tapu on the site. Different cultural and faith groups bring their own approaches.

If you would like to arrange a blessing of the site, you could contact your local church or faith centre, your local marae, your cultural leaders, the officer in charge of your case, a Police Iwi Liaison Officer, or speak to your Support Worker.

Advice and information is available from New Zealand embassies in the country concerned and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade can help you. They can liaise with police in New Zealand and the country the person died in about the process involved in any local investigations of the death.

They can let you know about:

  • official processes required in the country the person died in
  • available local burial or cremation options and any requirements that must be met
  • contact details for funeral directors in that country who could manage the funeral or tangihanga
  • how you can bring back the person’s body or ashes (repatriation) to New Zealand.

If a person’s body or their ashes are being returned to New Zealand

The family or whānau need to ask a New Zealand funeral director and a funeral director in the country where the death occurred to work together to look after all the necessary arrangements. All costs involved must be paid for by the family or whānau.

To find a funeral director to assist with repatriation go to:
•    Funeral Directors Association of New Zealand 
•    NZIFH Independent Funeral Homes 

For requirements when bringing the person’s ashes into New Zealand go to  

Urgent travel
For details on how to get an urgent passport if you need to travel overseas to attend the person’s funeral or tangihanga go to:

Air New Zealand offers some compassionate flights, see their website for more information.

The media often cover news about unexpected deaths in the community, and may ask to interview you or other family, whānau, and friends, about the person who died. This can be very stressful. The public interest in your personal situation can be unwanted and intrusive, and the media may not have your best interests at heart. Our guide to Managing media interest can give you some helpful guidance.

The officer in charge of your case will inform you about this and a Court Victim Advisor will keep you up to date with the case.

The Practical Information section of our website provides helpful information to assist you, such as Understanding the Justice SystemGoing to CourtAfter Sentencing and The Parole Board.

You can also talk with a Victim Support Worker, who can answer questions and find out key information for you. Please call us 24/7 on 0800 842 846 to be connected with a Support Worker.

Please click here if the death was due to any of the following specific sudden death situations. We have dedicated sections on our website with information to help you cope with these.

Other useful information and websites

What you need to do when someone dies



After a death: Dealing with practical matters
Managing media interest