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Funeral Directing Popular Career Choice

The largest group of trainee Funeral Directors has just completed a two week block course in Wellington. The students are studying with the Wellington Institute of Technology (WelTec), the only provider nationally of the New Zealand Diploma in Funeral Directing.

“The twenty-four students studying funeral directing with us this year are from all over New Zealand, from Invercargill to Warkworth. All currently work in the funeral industry around New Zealand as funeral directors. It is fantastic to see people wanting to gain professional qualifications and to see so many new people entering the funeral industry,” says Pierre Erasmus head of the funeral directing and embalming programmes at WelTec.

“It is important for people working in the funeral industry to become qualified to ensure we maintain high standards in industry. As well as all the professional recognition that a qualification brings to an individual, graduates are recognised by industry associations FDANZ (Funeral Directors Association of New Zealand) and NZIFH (New Zealand Independent Funeral Homes)”, says Pierre Erasmus.

Communication theory, human development, grief theory, funeral directing practice and self-care, exposure to cultural practices including Māori, Greek Orthodox, Jewish culture, Hinduism, Samoan culture and the cultures of all other Pacific nations are taught during the programme.

Anna Wolffram from Lychgate Funerals based in Wellington city attended the programme. "The first block of our funeral directing course has been a very reflective time for me as I correlate the work I do every day with the theories of the ‘how’ and ‘why’. The course so far has enabled me to delve deeper into how we can better communicate with our client families so they feel supported in every aspect of their grief experience. I’m finding this time of learning extremely valuable."

Part of the programme involves students spending time at Orongomai marae in Upper Hutt learning about the Treaty of Waitangi in a series of workshops. They also visit producers of caskets and funeral equipment, Regal Manufacturers.

Richard Madders from Davis Funerals in Auckland says, "So far the course has been really informative and personally a great opportunity for me to meet like minded people who all work in the same fantastic industry. I feel that we have all bonded well and are already sharing our knowledge and stories with each other. We have already started to learn about the different cultures which is something that is really going to help build my knowledge working in Auckland with its considerable diversity.

"As Pierre has said, the families that we serve do look at us as professionals and the experts in our field. With that in mind I think it is hugely important to hold a recognised qualification that I can be proud to display during my career as a Funeral Director."

The one-year Diploma programme involves 3 block courses at WelTec’s Petone campus, theory learning, assignment work, supervised learning experiences at work including clinical practice in the workplace and practical training sessions in Wellington. In the next block at WelTec students will hear form Dr Chris Bowden, an expert on male youth suicide and Chris Murphy from Hospice NZ, as well spending time practicing pall bearing.


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