Kawerau will have full funeral services, including a 100-seat chapel, by Christmas.
Brad Shaw, owner of Whakatāne’s Gateway Funeral Home, was given the keys to what will become Kawerau’s Gateway Funeral Home on the first of the month.
Shaw said the decision to open a second funeral home in the Eastern Bay had been an easy one.
“This is something we have been wanting to do for a long time,” Shaw told News Whakatāne. “We have been servicing the wider Kawerau community regularly since buying the Whakatāne business five years ago but always felt Kawerau should have its own funeral home.”
Gateway Kawerau will operate from 2-4 Ranfurly Court (the former Post Office and Coin Save building) and will be a full practicing funeral home with embalming, a full mortuary service, a 100-seat chapel, viewing facilities, a showroom and an office area.
“Everything that is available in Whakatāne will be available in Kawarau,” Shaw said.
“We also have staff who live within the Kawerau and Te Teko communities and who will be working in Kawerau on a rotational basis. I will also be spending a lot of time there.”
He envisaged the home serving not only Kawerau and Te Teko, but also Matata, Onepu, and potentially Rotoma.
Shaw said Kawerau District Council had been very helpful in progressing the funeral home.
“I believe they also see a need.
“There has been, and continues to be, significant growth in Kawerau. Only this morning Kawerau
Mayor Malcolm Campbell was talking about the interest expressed in regard to the new retirement
“That growth helped us make the decision.”
The new facility will potentially see an end to the gang conflict that often arose when the body of a Mongrel Mob member was taken to Whakatāne’s Gateway Funeral Home, which is located in an area generally regarded as Black Power territory.
“While that is not the sole reason we are opening in Kawerau, we do envisage the new home will go a long way to alleviate these issues that have arisen in the past. In doing so, we believe the people of
both communities will be safer.”
Following a brawl outside the funeral home in June last year, many people took to social media and insisted Kawerau needed its own funeral home.
“Once we’re open, people shouldn’t need to come to Whakatāne at all, especially if the deceased is buried at an urupa in Kawerau or surrounding areas, or in the Kawerau Cemetery.”
Shaw said he and his team were looking forward to being in Kawerau and becoming part of the Kawerau community.