Practical information
Managing media interest

Managing media interest

If you or anyone else is in immediate danger, call emergency services on 111.

  • If you’re in danger but it’s not safe to talk, call 111, stay silent, and follow the instructions to connect to police.
  • If you’re calling from a mobile, stay silent and listen for the 'press 55' prompt for help.
  • If you’re calling from a landline, stay silent and follow the operator’s instructions to press any button for help.
  • If you have hearing or speech difficulties, register for the New Zealand Police 111 TXT service so you can text Police, Fire or Ambulance in an emergency.
  • If English is not your primary language, Victim Support can use Connecting Now to connect with an interpreter over the phone. Call us on 0800 842 846 and let us know which language you need. Victim Support can also try and match you with a Support Worker who speaks your primary language.
  • To make a quick exit from this page click on the Quick Exit button on the top right. Go to the Hide my visit page to learn how to hide evidence of your visit to this site.

You may qualify for financial assistance under the Victim Assistance Scheme (VAS) which helps victims of serious crime by contributing to costs related to the crime, the justice process and recovery.

For more information you can contact your Support Worker, call us directly on 0800 842 846 or visit our Financial assistance page.

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The justice system can be complicated and unfamiliar but knowing what to expect can help. We can help you understand and engage with the justice system, answer any questions you have, and be there for you if you want someone to listen.

We can support you with:

  • Rights and information. We’ll help you understand your rights, provide information, and support you to make informed choices.
  • Justice system. We’ll explain the justice system and help you navigate each step, including supporting you at key moments during court, parole hearings, coronial inquests and family group or restorative justice conferences. We can help you prepare a Victim Impact Statement or apply to be on the Victim Notification Register.
  • Linking with other agencies and support. We’ll help you liaise with police, courts and other government agencies.

You can call us or visit our How we can help page to find out more about who we are, how we can help you and how to access our support.

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If you or others have been injured, see a doctor, go to a hospital emergency department or call an ambulance on 111 regardless of whether you decide to report the incident or not.

A professional medical assessment can help your recovery and ensure physical safety.

Depending on the incident, consider having the doctor prepare a medical report that can be shared with police, if you are comfortable doing that.

After what’s happened the media may want to get comments or interview you, your family, whānau, close friends or any witnesses.  Media can sometimes feel demanding and intrusive during stressful times but it’s your decision if you want to speak to them or not and what you feel comfortable sharing.

These situations can seem very unjust and unfair and can cause both grief and trauma. There is an overlap between these two reactions but there are also some differences. Grief is a normal reaction to loss, featuring a range of responses that stem from sadness. Trauma is a normal reaction to an abnormal event, featuring a range of responses that stem from fear and anxiety.

To help them cope through what’s happened, provide a safe and supportive space for children and young people to process their thoughts in their own way and reassure them it’s not their fault.

Family, whānau and friends can suddenly be called on to help someone who is a victim, witness, or has been bereaved by a crime or a traumatic event. Your caring support can help the person feel more able to cope and begin to recover. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do or say and you may be feeling stressed by their situation as well. Being there to listen and taking care of yourself along the way helps.

Any sudden death that is unexpected, violent or suspicious will be investigated by a coroner. Coroners are responsible for determining the details surrounding the death, including how, where, when, and why it occurred. This information is important in listing the cause of death on the official death certificate. It is a complex process that can vary according to the different circumstances of the death but is handled carefully and respectfully by those involved.

For many, a ceremonial blessing of the site where a person has died is an essential part of processing the loss. It acknowledges of the spiritual impact of the tragedy and protects and guides the spirit of the deceased. It respects and honours the dignity of the deceased person, their family, whānau, and community.

For Māori, it can include lifting of the tapu on the site and karakia. Other cultural and faith groups have their own unique blessing ceremonies. Some family or whānau members may choose to visit the scene and be part of a blessing ceremony and others may not. They may prefer to hold a private blessing or open it to whomever would like to come, including from the community.

If you are an immediate family or whānau member wishing to organise a blessing for the site, you could contact your kaumātua, local marae, church or faith centre, the police officer who has been working with you, a Police Iwi Liaison Officer, or speak to a Support Worker.

If you don't personally know the family or whānau but witnessed or discovered the incident, you can speak to a Support Worker if you'd like to attend a blessing, provided it is open to the public and the family or whānau are comfortable with that.

Advice and information is available from Aotearoa New Zealand embassies in the country concerned and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) can help. They can liaise with New Zealand Police and the country the person died in about the local investigation and justice process.

MFAT 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 Aotearoa New Zealand.

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

The immediate family or whānau can ask a funeral director in Aotearoa New Zealand about the options they have for arranging for their loved one's body or ashes to be repatriated (brought back to New Zealand).

Urgent travel

If you live overseas but the death of someone close to you has happened in Aotearoa New Zealand, the bereaved family or whānau are able to access some assistance here in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Manaaki Tāngata | Victim Support
Call us 24/7 on 0800 842 846 to be connected to a Support Worker for assistance.

The Ministry of Justice's Victims Information Centre
Find information, advice and support. Contact them here.

Support through the criminal justice system
Look in this directory to find a New Zealand lawyer

Some financial support
ACC may accept a claim for accidental death which would provide financial support to cover some costs when the death of a New Zealander has been confirmed by police as murder or manslaughter. If you're overseas contact ACC on +64 7 848 7400

Your chosen funeral director can do as little or as much as you want them to do. Talk with your funeral director about what you would like, including any cultural or religious rituals you want honoured. Ask them about costs and payment options, so you can make choices that are manageable.

A funeral director helps bereaved families and whānau in several ways, including:

collecting the person’s body from the mortuary and caring for them at their funeral home until burial or cremation

providing information about necessary legal requirements after a death

registering the death and helping families get a copy of the death certificate

explaining how you can bring back the person’s body or ashes (repatriation) to Aotearoa New Zealand.

preparing the body for viewing if the family wishes this and it is possible

fulfilling the family’s choices for the funeral, tangihanga (tangi), or memorial event

checking if the person’s legal will requested certain funeral arrangements

organising cremation or burial procedures that meet necessary requirements

helping families apply for financial assistance, if needed

If you and your immediate family or whānau prefer to organise a burial or cremation without a funeral director

The Victim Notification Register provides victims of serious crimes with notifications about what's happening to the person that offended against them as they move through the justice system. This includes their Parole Board hearings, temporary prison releases, home detention, hospital detention or prison release date.

To receive notifications and be kept informed, victims must apply to be listed on the Victim Notification Register. Victims are also able to nominate someone else as a representative to receive the notification on their behalf.

A victim can apply to be on the register at any stage after an offender has been charged.

The Police determine a victim’s eligibility to be on the Register and the Department of Corrections runs the confidential Register service.

A Victim Impact Statement is your opportunity to tell the court and the offender how the crime has personally affected you as a victim - emotionally, physically, financially, socially and psychologically, and in your daily life. This is a different statement to the one you gave to police after the crime occurred.

A Victim Impact Statement helps the court understand your views about the offending and the information you provide, if you decide to make a statement, will be considered by the judge when the offender is being sentenced.

The tragic death of someone close to us is always distressing, and when it happens unexpectedly or in some cases violently, it can be even more challenging. We might hear the news from others or have witnessed the person’s death ourselves, and the shock can leave us unsure about what we need to do.

A lot needs to happen within the first few days after a death and many people and agencies become involved. They understand how distressing this time is will support you through it respectfully and with care.

Support is here for you when things get tough. You don't have to face it alone. Reach out to these confidential and non-judgmental services to discuss your situation and get the help you need.

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A crime, unexpected death, or serious incident can quickly become public information when the media shares details about what’s happened.

After a very serious crime, police may offer to work with you to release a media statement. In other situations, anyone from a media organisation could contact you, your family, whānau, friends, acquaintances, and even people you barely know to ask for details, comments, or an interview.

If the media contact you, it is your decision as to whether you wish to speak to them or not.

The media can have a positive role in assisting with enquiries if you or family and whānau members are asked to make a formal public request for more information about the incident. Occasionally journalists also independently investigate a case and find helpful new evidence. Their reporting may also help the police locate an offender through appeals for information, or alert the public to any risks.

However, it pays to assume the media may not have your best interests in mind. Victims sometimes find that journalists can be persistent, demanding, and intrusive when they are searching for details about a story. Their attention may be distressing and they sometimes find inventive ways to discover more information, including staking out homes, hospitals, and workplaces, or taking pictures from social media accounts without asking.

Be aware that you might also unexpectedly hear, read, or see something in the media about your case or incident that you may find upsetting.  It can also be stressful reliving an already traumatic experience through media and to hear information which may not reflect events as you experienced them.


Police statements

If there has been a homicide, a workplace or road fatality, or a death in a traumatic event like a fire or natural disaster, the police will only officially release to the media the name of the deceased once the formal identification of the body has been made. They will talk with the immediate family about this timing.  

In the release police may include details like the gender, approximate age of the person and where they were found. They might also state that they have referred the death to the coroner or started a homicide inquiry. If you wish, the police officer in charge of your case, usually called the "OC" or Officer in Charge, can help your family or whānau to prepare and release a family statement as well.


Dealing with media attention

Some victims find it helpful and empowering to share their story. For others, dealing with the media is very stressful. Speaking with the media or not is your choice.

If you decide not to speak to the media

Responding to media inquiries

  • Use your voicemail or messaging to filter calls so you don’t accidentally answer a call from someone you don’t want to speak to.
  • It may be easier to decline to comment by using messaging or email, where this is possible, as journalists can still keep pushing you for an answer if you are talking over the phone.
  • You can simply ignore requests. It’s okay to tell them you have “no comment” or ask them to direct all queries to police.

Media reporting

  • Understand that even if you choose not to comment, it may not be possible to stop the media reporting on your case.

Ongoing media attention

  • Media attention may increase again at any time, such as when an offender may be eligible for parole. Refer back to these tips when you need to.

If you decide to speak to the media

Responding to media inquiries

  • You might choose to issue a written statement only to the media. After very serious crimes, the Officer in Charge can help you with this. After any incident, you can always post statements on social media and direct media inquiries there.
  • Don’t feel you need to answer straight away. Take your time before responding to media inquiries, schedule interviews for when you're prepared, and ask for questions in advance via email so you have time to consider what you want to say.

Strategic engagement

  • You can choose to be proactive and set up interviews with the media at a time you choose, such as around upcoming anniversaries or when the family or whānau want to highlight an aspect of the case. This allows you to get ahead of the media and do it on your own terms.
  • Ask police to tell you about media releases they are making about your case or situation before they release them to the media.

Choosing a spokesperson

  • Designate a representative by deciding whether you, a family or whānau member, or a close friend will interact with the media. Take time to ensure they are familiar with your perspectives and what you wish to communicate before engaging with media requests.

Content sharing considerations

  • Carefully choose what information you're comfortable sharing with the public, discussing with family or whānau if necessary.
  • Be cautious of content given for interviews; you can't review the final version. Families and whānau can feel angry their words have been twisted or misconstrued so planning what you want to say is very important.
  • Think carefully about which photos, written documents/messages, audio, or video you may want to give to media. It’s very important to know that any of these could be used by them in the future without your additional permission.

Managing Interviews

  • Always assume your interview is being recorded. If you are not comfortable with that, tell the journalist before your interview.
  • There is no such thing as ‘off the record’. Media can use anything you say at any time. Avoid saying anything in the spur of the moment that you might later regret.
  • If you feel pressured or stressed by a member of the media at any time, say you will call or message them back or have someone else do that on your behalf. You can also delay an interview you’ve already arranged if you need to.

Addressing misinformation

  • Incorrect information given to the media by relatives, friends, or others can be frustrating and sometimes hurtful. If this happens, you can ask the media to correct any misinformation. Please understand though, sometimes these people pass on information that is factual or considered their opinion.

Ongoing media attention

  • Media attention may increase again at any time, such as when an offender may be eligible for parole. Refer back to these tips when you need to.


The media in court

Aotearoa New Zealand has an open justice system and members of the public and media can attend most court cases. The media do play an important role in reporting on cases.

In certain instances, the judge can close the courtroom to the public and media, or at their discretion, limit media presence or reporting on specific details of a case.


Laws and guidelines for the media

There are laws and guidelines governing what journalists can and cannot report on.

  • Victims of sexual violence, children and young people are protected from being identified by the media.
  • In some court cases, the prosecutor may ask the court to prevent identification of witnesses who are vulnerable.
  • In some instances, such as after a suicide, homicide, family violence and harm or sexual violence incident, a judge will decide to suppress the names of victims, the person accused, or details of the case. This means no media can report on these.

After a suicide

Under law in Aotearoa New Zealand, the media must follow certain restrictions about what they can report if a death appears to have been by suicide. These rules exist to reduce the chance of further suicides in the community.

After a suicide, the media cannot make public:

  • the method or suspected method of the death
  • any details (like the place of death) that might suggest the method or suspected method of the death
  • a description of the death as a suicide before the coroner has released their findings and stated the death was a suicide (although the death can be described as a suspected suicide before then).


Coping with media demands

If you feel that media pressure has become too intrusive or demanding, or if you have concerns or questions, you can talk to the Officer in Charge or your Support Worker.

You can call us on 0800 842 846 or visit our How we can help page to find out more about who we are, how we can help you, and how to access our support.


To lodge a complaint about media content visit the New Zealand Media Council website.



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