Practical information
Supporting others

Supporting others

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.


Free 24/7 helpline for counselling support for anyone who is stressed, needs someone to talk to, or is feeling overwhelmed.

Depression NZ

Free 24/7 depression helpline and information and resources to help individuals dealing with depression in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Family Services Directory

Directory of nationwide support providers who can help families and whānau cope with common issues and problems.

Lifeline Aotearoa

Free 24/7 helpline to support the emotional wellbeing of New Zealanders and connect people to support that helps them cope through a difficult situation.

Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand

Nationwide directory of GPs, mental health counsellors and services, and information for anyone in need of mental health support.

New Zealand Relay

Helps people who are deaf, hard of hearing, speech-impaired, and deafblind to connect with support services over the phone.

Skylight Trust

Counselling, resources, and a specialist support library for children, young people, and adults who are experiencing any kind of grief, loss or trauma, including after a homicide or suicide.

Talking Works NZ

A directory of professional counsellors around Aotearoa New Zealand.

The Grief Centre

Services to support children, youth, adults, families, or whānau experiencing any form of significant loss.


Family, whānau, and friends can often be called on to help someone who is a victim, witness, or has been bereaved by crime or a traumatic event. Your empathetic support can play an important role in their recovery journey, even though it's common to feel uncertain about how to navigate these situations. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do or say and you may be feeling stressed by their situation as well.

Being a source of understanding, offering ongoing care, and being open to listen when they're ready to talk can ease some their challenges. While your support won't erase their pain, knowing they have someone to rely on can make their journey a little less daunting.


Understand their reactions

People will react in their own ways. You might see someone you know doing or saying things that are different from normal. These are completely normal reactions to a traumatic situation and most people find their reactions gradually lessen over time. Be accepting of their reactions and know that it will take time for them to work through what’s happened.

It can be helpful to understand what the person you’re supporting might be going through and some of the practical matters they will need to attend to.

Find information and resources tailored to specific situations on our Crime and traumatic events pages, as well as additional support in our Coping with grief and trauma page.


How to help

After a crime or traumatic event, it’s important to remember that your loved one might not know how, or even want to talk about it. Give them space - they’ve been through a lot and may need to concentrate on themselves first.

Just showing you believe them and expressing your support and willingness to stand by them can be a guiding light during a tough time.

What you can do

Listen and understand

  • Give them the space to open up, but never push them to share more than they're comfortable with.
  • Understand that their emotions might be intense and varied; let them express what's on their mind, even if it's repetitive, as it's part of their processing.
  • Refrain from offering immediate advice, and respect their choice if they'd rather talk to someone else.
  • Be culturally sensitive and respect any cultural differences.

Allow grief

  • Acknowledge their grief and what’s happened, and don't minimise their loss or critique their coping mechanisms.
  • Let them grieve at their own pace and in their own unique way.
  • Provide extra understanding and support to bereaved parents, who often navigate a particularly challenging journey of grief.

Embrace silence

  • Recognise that sometimes silence is what they need; don't feel compelled to fill it with words.
  • Non-verbal gestures like eye contact, a gentle touch, or a comforting hug can communicate your support. Sometimes your caring presence is enough.

Express your feelings

  • It's okay to show your own emotions, but remember to keep the focus on them.
  • If overwhelmed, step back briefly and collect yourself; they shouldn't feel responsible for comforting you.
  • Share positive moments when the time is right for everyone.

Offer assistance

  • Ask how you can help, and make specific suggestions like accompanying them to appointments, delivering them a meal, or picking their children up from school.
  • Respect their decisions even if they decline your offers. Some people find doing things themselves helps them feel in control and helps their recovery.
  • Help them to be safe and feel secure, and reassure them that they’re not responsible for what’s happened. Ask them if there is anything you can do to help them feel safer.

Offer advice with sensitivity

  • Avoid providing unsolicited opinions and strong advice and help them to have choices and control.
  • If you have suggestions, frame them as considerations or options to empower their decision-making. If you do have some suggestions, start by saying… "Have you thought about..." or "You might like to...", so the choice stays with them.

Provide ongoing support

  • Regularly check in on them; don't assume their emotional state.
  • After a bereavement, continue to be present throughout their grieving, including key dates like anniversaries and birthdays.

Watch out for concerning signs

  • Be vigilant for signs that they might require additional help or support. If someone displays a lack of recovery, ongoing distress, nightmares, strained relationships, escalated mental health issues, risky behavior, or expresses a desire for help, these signs should raise concern.
  • If their reactions raise concerns or you worry about their safety, discuss your worries with them and check if they want to consider professional or medical help.

What not to do or say

To provide effective support to someone who has experienced a distressing event, it's essential to avoid unhelpful responses such as urging them to forget, not talk about, or move on from it quickly.

Avoid general phrases such as “look on the bright side” or “if only”, and don't minimise their experience by saying things like “You’re lucky it wasn’t worse”, or assuming you understand exactly how they feel.

Instead, it's important to be patient, avoid judgment, and create a space for them to express their thoughts and feelings at their own pace.  Not pressuring them into professional help can also be more supportive in the long run, as everyone's recovery journey is unique, and seeking assistance should be their choice and timeline.


Practical support after a bereavement



Supporting a victim or witness at court

Family, whānau, or a trusted friend of a victim of crime, can be a huge support during a court case. This includes helping them to find any information they are needing before a trial as well, through their Support Worker, Court Victim Advisor, or by utilising resources such as our Going to court page.

  • Offer transportation to and from the court, helping them get home safely after each court session.
  • Accompany them to the court, ensuring they don't face it alone.
  • Sit beside them in the courtroom, providing a sense of solidarity during the case proceedings.
  • Provide continuous support throughout the day. Court sessions can be lengthy, so encourage breaks and maintain their well-being by ensuring they take care of themselves.
  • If they are a court witness, sit near them when they need to testify, adhering to the judge's instructions. Remember, you can't speak unless directly addressed by the court authority.
  • Attend a coroner's inquest with them if their loved one's cause of death is under consideration.
  • Accompany them to a family group conference or restorative justice conference if they choose to participate.



If you are acting as their representative

You may be called upon to be the liaison between the person you are supporting and the police, medical staff, or other agencies.

It’s helpful to keep your loved one involved in decision making and informed about any updates.  It’s a good idea to check in with them regularly about what their needs and wants are and if there is anything they want conveyed.

If you have been asked to deliver a Victim Impact Statement, represent them at a restorative justice conference or receive victim notifications on their behalf, it's useful to learn about what's involved and how to get help.


Managing media interest

If you are the designated spokesperson speaking to media on behalf of your loved one, spend some time with them  to ensure you know what they want to say and that you’re representing them in a way that is most supportive to them.

Keep them involved and updated and check in to make sure their voice is heard.



Look after yourself

It’s important to take good care of yourself - your well-being matters.

It’s not easy watching someone you care about going through a difficult and traumatic experience. Supporting someone through a bereavement can also be incredibly challenging, especially if you’re grieving the loss as well.  Sometimes, the things that another person has experienced can start to have a second-hand effect on you also.

You may find it helpful to talk to someone supportive too or find it useful to let your loved one know what you are able or unable to do and be realistic in what your capacity is.

To be able to give others good support, you need to prioritise looking after yourself and take some time to yourself when you need to.


Support services




Useful websites and other information


Downloadable resources