Grieving family furious after NZ Post loses aunt's ashes

Sharon Johnson's death left "a huge hole" in her family's lives.
Sharon Johnson's death left "a huge hole" in her family's lives. Photo credit: Supplied

A grieving family is furious after NZ Post lost a portion of their aunt's ashes - with no information on how to retrieve them.

Sarah* told Newshub her aunt Sharon Johnson died suddenly a year and a half ago, and her mother was unable to make the funeral.

Last week, to help her cope with the grief and get some closure, Sarah's cousin decided to send a portion of Johnson's ashes from Picton to Rotorua for a memorial service.

The ashes were placed in a parcel and tracked and traced - but when Sarah got an email saying the ashes had arrived in Queenstown, she knew something was wrong.

"They should have been in Rotorua, so I called my cousin and she got told they would call the driver directly and get it stopped."

But instead, she received an email saying her aunt's ashes had been delivered in Queenstown and she would receive no further updates.

"It's just not right - how could they lose her? She's not a pair of shoes!"

Sarah says she always knew there was a risk in sending the ashes via post - but the communication from NZ Post has not been good enough.

"They keep saying they'll get back to us, here's the case number - but it's just not good enough."

Johnson's family is now stuck grieving with no sign of closure in sight.

"We're really upset and angry - her husband, my uncle is pretty upset and so is her daughter. They really need the closure - it's just not right."

Amongst all the grief, there is a small glimmer of humour, however. Sarah told Newshub  her aunt was a real character - and would probably be loving the mix-up.

"She always wanted to go to Queenstown, so there's been a bit of laughter about that,

"She was crazy, she was so, so funny. So naughty, but in the right way, you know? She's just left such a huge hole in the family."

NZ Post's chief operating officer Brendon Main told Newshub while sending ashes is prohibited, an investigation is underway. 

"We appreciate the sensitivity of this matter and apologise for any frustration caused."

UPDATE: After an investigation by NZ Post the ashes were returned to the family on Wednesday.

"It appears the tracking label came off the original package and attached itself to another parcel - which was addressed to a Queenstown address," said a written statement by NZ Post.

"NZ Post can confirm the parcel containing human ashes has been delivered to the intended recipient in Rotorua."

*Sarah's real name has been left out to protect her identity