Christchurch terror attack: Victims' families reassured burial process is their choice

With more victims being returned to their families following Friday's Christchurch terror attacks, many families are facing decisions around their loved ones' burial.

On Tuesday evening, police announced that post-mortem examinations have been completed on all 50 victims. Twelve of the dead have been identified to the satisfaction of the Coroner and of those, six have been released to their families.

All bodies are being prepared for burial at a single location, but what happens from there is a personal choice, according to National Funeral Disaster Response team coordinator Simon Manning.

"Some families will choose to have individual burials, some will choose to be a part of a larger number, but every family has the right to make that decision and it is entirely up to them," he told Newshub.

Relatives of those lost in the attacks are travelling to New Zealand to help in the process, and some of the victims may be taken back overseas.

"Possibly six or seven may be repatriated. It is such a fluid situation we are really unsure where those people are being repatriated to," said Manning.

But some families are becoming increasingly frustrated their loved ones have yet to be released to them by authorities.

"We are getting very frustrated with the New Zealand Police, because we have been lied to a multiple of times," said Sharma Nhazeem, a relative of a victim.

"I will give you the example of a Somali father awaiting with a three year old son. He has come to me and stretched out his arms and said to me 'can I have my Bubba back?' I said: 'They will wrap your bubba tomorrow and return to you'.

"That hasn't happened. A father, a mother - has been lied to."

Police said they are "acutely aware of frustrations by families associated with the length of time required for the identification process".

"We are doing all we can to undertake this work as quickly as possible and return the victims to their loved ones.

"While identification may seem straightforward the reality is much more complex, particularly in a situation like this."


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