Dargaville man's body lies in funeral home for seven months as next of kin cannot be found

The body of a Dargaville man, who died in hospital seven months ago, is still lying in a funeral home after his next of kin could not be found.

Estate planning company Perpetual Guardian are now looking to apply to the High Court to gain control of Thomas Brugman's body so he can have a proper farewell.

Executive Director of Davis Funerals Neil Little told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning his company sees about half a dozen of cases where a body remains unclaimed a year.

"It doesn't happen a lot but it does happen from time to time, as a business for us this situation comes up about six times a year but the circumstances are usually a little different," he said.

Mr Little says there is no law covering who is responsible for locating a person's next of kin if none can be found, but the onus usually falls on the funeral home.

Mr Brugman's case is a rare one Mr Little said, as normally cases where a next of kin cannot be found are ones which have been referred to the coroner and involve police in the location process.

The rest home where Mr Brugman had lived prior to his death, have no legal authority over the body, which is why Perpetual Guardian have stepped in to try and resolve the issue.

The case has prompted the Funeral Directors Association to call for a law change to make the process easier in the future.

A man's body being unclaimed for seven months has prompted the Funeral Directors Association to call for a law change. Source: Breakfast


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'Nice idea but financially I don't think it floats' - why a bridge or tunnel across Cook Strait won't happen

The idea of a bridge or a tunnel across Cook Strait has been shut down by the chief executive of Infrastructure New Zealand, who says "it's a nice idea but financially I don't think it floats."

The idea was recently mooted in an article by Stuff, who pitched the project to several ministers and was met with mixed reaction. 

Transport Minister Phil Twyford claimed it was the first he has ever heard of bridge or tunnel running across the stretch of water and said due to the rough conditions, a bridge could be ruled out.

National's transport spokesperson Judith Collins labeled the idea "hugely ambitious and audacious."

Speaking on TVNZ 1's Breakfast programme this morning, INZ's Stephen Selwood said both options are technically possible but cost is a significant factor which would likely rule them out. 

"Roading from the tunnel or the bridge would be pretty hard to get consented in New Zealand ...and with a bridge you have got currents and winds," Mr Selwood said. 

"So really from a technical point of view, maybe a tunnel but to give you some idea of the cost, $300 million a km for a tunnel would be a good buy these days. Waterview was more like $600, so put that into perspective. 

"So you are talking maybe $10-$20 billion, take you a 100 years at $200 a toll each way to pay it off.

"Nice idea but financially I don't think it floats.

"Small population base, long distance, very difficult water. Fantastic idea but I'm sorry we've got bigger priorities elsewhere...there is a lot of improvements we need on our state highways first."

It would help those who don't like ferries, but Stephen Selwood of Infrastructure NZ doesn't think it will happen in our lifetime. Source: Breakfast


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'It's going to kill ya' - January spike in motorcycle deaths on Kiwi roads worries police

Police are urging motorcyclists to take extra care on our roads after a high rate of motorbike fatalities in the first month of the year.

Those killed on motorbikes made up close to a third of the total road toll for January, and it was a stark increase from a year ago.

In January last year, motorbike fatalities were 17 per cent of the month's death toll.

This January was close to double that at 29 per cent.

Emergency services are well aware of the hike and police say rider behaviour needs to change.

"We believe there has been some unnecessary overtaking or extra risks taken around getting to people's destinations," Assistant Commissioner for road policing Sandra Venables says.

And safety is also key.

"Wear the best safety gear that you can afford, if you get a slight knock on your helmet make sure that it gets replaced," Ms Venables says.

A keen motorcycle rider of many years, Clive Thomas believes the January death toll hike may be caused by an increase in inexperienced riders on roads not ideal for bikes in the first place.

"We've got roads where there's loose metal on corners, no signage to say there's loose metal there there's things they can do, and I know it costs money - but what cost is a life?" Mr Thomas says.

"You'll always get the odd person who does take risks.

"Unfortunately if you're on a motorcycle and you make a bad decision, it's going to hurt, or it's going to kill ya."

Ten riders were killed in January, sparking police to call for safe driving. Source: 1 NEWS