Business North July / August 2021

| 107 Helping the bereaved to cope with grief “At a time of grief people often need someone who can be a little stoic and decisive for them. They look to us for guidance and support...” Sue Russell Adrian Catran and the team at Twentymans Funeral services - New Zealand’s oldest funeral services business. BUSINESS Twentymans Funeral Services A sk Twentymans Funeral Services owner Adrian Catran about what qualities he thinks go into being a top-notch funeral director and the response is interesting. Rather than it being all about an ability to empathise, Adrian says there are other skills that are just as important. “At a time of grief people often need some- one who can be a little stoic and decisive for them. They look to us for guidance and sup- port, so it is also important to be able to have a degree of separation, in order to provide this,” Adrian explains. Based in Thames, Twentymans is New Zea- land’s oldest funeral services business, having been in existence since 1867 and for many of those, in the same family. Adrian took up a half share in the business in 1990 and took it over fully in 1996. Today it has offices/facilities in Whitianga, Whangama- ta and Paeroa. In the Thames main centre Twentymans Funeral Services has a pet cremator, the only dedicated one in the Southern Hemisphere, as a business ‘Forever Pets’ aligned to the company. In 2019, Twentymans purchased a new cremator from the US and in the last financial year performed 321 cremations. “When I bought it we were doing 210 funer- als a year and now we are averaging 290.” The company is a family affair, Julie and Amba involved along with Kate, Phillipa, Ro- chelle, Nick, Max and Brodie. Over the many years Adrian has been running the company he says he has seen it all and noticed that people generally these days can tend to be more assertive with their funeral needs. Another challenge, he says, is the unregulat- ed nature of the industry. “It may be surprising for some to know but anyone in New Zealand can set themselves up a Funeral Services company, without any formal qualifications or being bound by any particular standards. I think that is a real problem we have.” Back in the 1930’s the Government of the day attempted to bring down regulations but this didn’t carry through and today, The Funer- al Directors Association is pushing for reform and regulation. “I know of some fairly questionable practic- es and when you consider you’re dealing with the death of someone, the grief of those left behind and how precious that time is, it’s very sad to think that not all Funeral businesses work to the highest possible standards.” Adrian is pleased the Ministry’s of Justice and of Health are conducting a review of the whole sector and looking at rationalising a qualification framework. He’s also concerned about price-undercut- ting that can happen when a new business begins. “We’re very clear about what our fees cover and there are no hidden costs, so our clients know what they can afford in terms of options.” If there is one message Adrian would like readers to understand it’s the importance of planning and preparation. Ensuring family have all the necessary details about the de- ceased in order to process the death certifi- cate and to ensure their wishes are upheld. Twentymans Funeral Services is also a Coro- nial Contractor, which means it has authority from the Coroners Office to uplift deceased people on behalf of the Coroner. He also describes Funeral Directors as the ‘lost tribe’, in terms of no organised provision of care in terms of access to counselling. “The fire, police, ambulance workers all have counselling available whereas we have to look after each other. I always ask my staff how they are feeling so they have an opportu- nity to share if they are struggling.” When Business North spoke with Adrian he was preparing for the free Monday evening meal they sponsor for the homeless in the district. “I see the homeless when I’m out walking the dogs and I decided this was something practical we could help with. “There are over 30 people who attend. We also put on a free Christmas lunch, with the help of volunteers, through ‘A Place at the Table Trust” Every year the company returns to the com- munity in various forms of sponsorships, such as local bowling tournaments, the Thames Coast Kiwi Care and the local rugby club. In his early 70’s Adrian thinks he is the old- est working funeral director in the country. “I would like to step back soon and leave the business in the capable hands of my daughter and staff.” 444 Pollen St, Thames Catering 022 380 9735 / Shop 07 862 8252 • Nibble Buffets • Grazing Tables & Platters Wedding Catering • Burton’s Lunch Bar • Contact Kristie 027 214 1125 Proudly associated with Twentymans Funeral Services Available for all catering functions & private dining Phone 07 868 3898