Fu­neral di­rec­tors un­der new own­er­ship

Bush Telegraph - - RURAL HEARTLAND - By CHRIS­TINE MCKAY • $165 $320 $547 $755

Since 1898 there have been just four fu­neral di­rec­tors in Dan­nevirke. Grant Hur­rell stepped down re­cently, with Tracey Friend tak­ing own­er­ship of the new re­branded Tararua Fu­ner­als.

An­der­son and Son were fu­neral di­rec­tors from 1898 to 1961, Viv Oliver from 1961 to 1972, John Healey from 1972 un­til 1983. Grant took over on April 1, 1983, pur­chas­ing the busi­ness from Healey.

“I came to Dan­nevirke be­cause there was a busi­ness avail­able. In those days not many fu­neral di­rec­tors busi­nesses were sold,” he said. “Over the years I’ve had good times and bad.

“I came from a firm which han­dled 800 fu­ner­als a year and our boss said, ‘look af­ter ser­vice, qual­ity and peo­ple and the money will look af­ter it­self and I’m pleased to have been able to carry on that phi­los­o­phy at Tararua Fu­neral Ser­vices.”

Tracey said Grant has also in­stilled those qual­i­ties in her and staff mem­ber Rita Brown.

Grant said he’s proud to have sup­ported the town in many ways.

“When we built the new chapel we pur­chased ev­ery­thing, ex­cept the chairs, lo­cally and I al­ways try and spend money in Dan­nevirke,” he said. “I’ve sup­ported the Dan­nevirke Fan­tasy Cave, St Vin­cent de Paul, the St John Health Shut­tle, Tararua Rid­ing for the Dis­abled, the Cac­tus youth pro­gramme and the Can­cer So­ci­ety.”

Grant said he’s proud of the way the 104 dis­in­ter­ment at Mata­mau Ceme­tery and the rein­ter­ments in the new ceme­tery were han­dled.

“The knowl­edge of Herb Chase and Tom Col­lier in that project was in­valu­able,” he said.

One of the high­lights for Grant was be­ing ac­knowl­edged by St John for the work he did in help­ing to set up the health shut­tle ser­vice. “But be­ing made a life mem­ber of the Manawatu¯ Can­cer So­ci­ety was a high­light and a dis­ap­point­ment,” he said. “Since 1983 I’ve ap­pre­ci­ated the work of the field of­fi­cer and the late Mary Snad­don, but the big dis­ap­point­ment has been the way the Manawatu¯ Can­cer So­ci­ety has dealt with Dan­nevirke and the com­mu­nity re­gard­ing be­quests and money raised. Only a frac­tion has come back to this com­mu­nity and it’s been up­set­ting for some fam­i­lies be­cause they had stip­u­lated the money was to be used for this com­mu­nity.”

Although Grant and his fam­ily moved to Palmer­ston North in 1990 so his chil­dren could go to univer­sity and still live at home, he’s very proud of his con­tri­bu­tion to Tararua.

“There have been chal­leng­ing in­ci­dents, but I hope I have been able to help fam­i­lies get through,” he said. “When I came to Dan­nevirke I was the only fully qual­i­fied fu­neral di­rec­tor and em­balmer, but over the years the com­pany has put Tracey through her New Zealand diploma of fu­neral di­rect­ing and Rita Brown has re­cently achieved her diploma in em­balm­ing. She is qual­i­fied in nat­u­ral em­balm­ing and she can also use other nat­u­ral tech­niques in body care.”

“I had a ma­jor heart at­tack in 2002 and re­ally started step­ping back from the busi­ness three years ago,” he said. “I’m 70 in De­cem­ber and I’ve re­ally strug­gled some days. I would like to spend more time with my grow­ing num­ber of grand­chil­dren, but may be back for cer­tain fu­ner­als. I will miss the per­sonal re­la­tion­ships though.”

Keen on rugby and a ref­eree here in Dan­nevirke pre­vi­ously, Grant will con­tinue to ref­eree the big games from the side­line, in his home in Palmer­ston North.

“We’ll miss him and his heart has al­ways been in this com­mu­nity, but he de­serves his rest,” Tracey said.

“Tak­ing own­er­ship of this busi­ness is a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion and af­ter 14 years here I couldn’t bear to let any­one else look af­ter this com­mu­nity. I will just con­tinue to do the job we’ve done for Tararua, which is a great com­mu­nity. Rita and I will carry on just the two of us, with a few lit­tle dis­creet changes, but with the same qual­ity of ser­vice.”

One of the ma­jor changes for fu­neral di­rec­tors has been the ar­rival of cell­phones.

“From 1983 to 1990, I only had two tele­phones, one at home and one at work,” Grant said. “Tech­nol­ogy has changed this in­dus­try and there’s also been a big change, with photo trib­utes, books, cel­e­brants and the per­son­al­i­sa­tion of fu­neral ser­vices, com­pared to when I started.”

Tararua Fu­ner­als now do live stream­ing on their own chan­nel, pro­gres­sion driven by the next gen­er­a­tion spread through­out the world.



On Mon­day, Tracey Friend will take over own­er­ship of Tararua Fu­neral Ser­vices from Grant Hur­rell, who has been at the helm for 35 years. Tracey will re­brand the busi­ness as Tararua Fu­ner­als.

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