Practical matters specific to road fatalities

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

Blessing the site
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.

The blessing may be led by Maori kaumātua, another spiritual, cultural or community leader, or someone the family or whānau invites. 

Some family or whānau members may want to visit the scene and be part of a blessing ceremony, and others may not. You can choose to hold the blessing privately or open it to whoever would like to come, including from your community.

If you are an immediate family or whānau member and 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 police officer who has been working with the family, a Police Iwi Liaison Officer, or speak to your Support Worker.

If you don't personally know the family or whānau but witnessed or discovered the death, you can speak to a Support Worker if you'd like to possibly attend any blessing of the site that is being arranged.

If the person died overseas
If the person died overseas, New Zealand Embassies 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
  • 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: New Zealand Passports

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

How do I arrange for a white cross to be placed on the roadside, where the person died?
Placing a memorial cross on the roadside requires the permission of the owner of the road, usually NZTA or the local council. Rules will differ depending on the owner. Citizen’s Advice offer some helpful information on what to do.

ACC may provide some financial support if someone has died from an injury
You can read about what they cover here.

You may also have an insurance policy that covers accidental death
If you do, contact your insurance company as soon as possible. They will explain what you need to do. Every company has different terms and conditions in their policies.

Managing media interest
The information sheet Managing media interest can help guide you.
See also suggestions from Brake, a NZ road injury and bereavement charity

Other useful websites and information
Brake a charity providing further information on other practical issues following a crash

Request a Traffic Crash Report (TCR)

What you need to do when someone dies - a government site also offering key information after the death of a loved one.


After a death: Dealing with practical matters
Managing media interest