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History of Funeral Services Training Trust of New Zealand

Before looking at the current situation of the Trust, it is an opportune time to examine and relfect on the formation of formal training in funeral services in New Zealand

The Vocational Training Council (VTC)
The Council was established in 1968 to carry out a wide range of functions and to make recommendations and conduct reasearch in respect of training of persons for vocations. Membership was made up of appointments from the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Labour and Industry.

The objectives of the V.T.C. were to:

  • Encourage the implementation of organsied training and development schemes to ensure that New Zealand has and will have the people at all levels of employment to perform their tasks efficiently
  • Ensure that people as individuals have the opportunity to develop.
  • Raise the standards of knowledge, skills and effectiveness.
  • Encourage those directly responsible for achieving the foregoing objectives.
  • Funeral Director and Embalmer training developed rapidly during the 1970s in New Zealand

In 1974 key members of the embalming industry established the New Zealand Embalmers Training Committee which was able to access VTC funding under the Group Scheme Incentive plan to support a formal training course in embalming.

The Group Scheme concentrated on:

  • Assisting in the development of the then Central Institute of Technolocy (CIT) Courses
  • Promoting and organising
  • New developments training
  • Training for specialist areas e.g. Disaster work (this had a major benefit following the Erebus DC10 crash) and Counselling.
  • Refresher Training
  • Upgrading training for existing staff.

Industry Training Boards
In the 1971 Budget the Government gave its approval of the formation of the Industry Training Boards. The function of the training boards were the same as the V.T.C., but restricted to the particular industrial or commerial grouping.

In brief they were set up to ensure that training needs were identified and satisfied. The structure was, like the V.T.C., tripartite - representatives of employer, employee and appropriate government groups.

Funding in these early days was a mixture of Government and Industry. In the case of FSTC, New Zealand Embalmers Association (NZEA) and Funeral Directing Association of New Zealand (FDANZ) contributed equally with a larger percentage from government.

Industry Training Committee
An Industry Training Committee is to all intents and purposes an Industry Training Board except that the Government Grant is half that for a normal Industry Training Board. The current level means that the Government funds available are approximately twice those previously available through the Group Scheme incentive.

In addition the Committee may apply for Training Development Assistance on the same basis as an Industry Training Board.

Funeral Service Training Committee
In 1981 the VTC formally established the Funeral Service Training Committee (FSTC) to oversee training and development in the industry. The structure of the Committee was:

Area of activity - on and off-job training of all personnel involved in Funeral Directing and Embalming
The occupations involved would be

  • NZSOC 5920 * Undertaker and Embalmer
  • Others involved in Funeral Directing Companies particularly clerical staff.

Membership - the Funeral Service Training Committee consisted of:

  • One member appointed by the Vocational Training Council
  • One member appointed by the Department of Education
  • Two members appointed by the Funeral Directors Association of NZ Inc.
  • Two members appointed by the New Zealand Embalmers Association Inc.

All appointed members held office for a term of three calendar years, and were able to remain in office until their successor is appointed, and was eligible for reappointment

Finance- the Funeral Directors Association of New Zealand and the New Zealand Embalmers Association guaranteed to jointly meet the non-government financial responsibilities of the Committee on the basis of an annual budget

Rules - detailed rules following the normal VTC pattern were drafted for approval by the Committee at its first meeting. New Zealand Standard Occupational Classification Number 5920.

History of the Committee
In 1984 the FSTC was formally appointed as the Funeral Services Advisory Committee to the Central Institute of Technology (CIT).

Like most other things in life change takes place and training has been no exception. Towards the latter part of 1984 the Vocational Training Council was disbanded and government involvement on a formal basis was severed from the Funeral Service Training Committee. Government funding after a gradual reduction in the level of contributions received had been removed some time prior to this.

With this disbandment came new challenges and like new challenges ways of overcoming these had to be formulated.

In 1989 FSTC approached the member of FDANZ with a proposal for a training levy calculated on the number of Funerals directed in a year. This proposal was discussed at length and passed. This gave the Committee the support and strength to go forward and meet the ever-increasing challenges with a vigour that demonstrated to other agencies the commitment of the profession to formal and professional training.

It is worth remembering that the formation of this Committee was due entirely to the vision, input and dedication of a few very far-thinking persons who for the benefit of the whole profession progressed Funeral Service education to the formal professional level that exists today.

The Funeral Service Training Trust of New Zealand
In 1991 The Industry Training Act was introduced which established Industry Training Organisations (ITO’s) as a replacement for the defunct Industry Training Boards and Committees. As a result, The Funeral Service Training Trust of New Zealand (FSTT) was established in 1991 under the Charitable Trusts Act clause of the Act. The structure of the Trust, was almost identical to the old FSTC, but provision was made for additional industry representatives should the need arise.

Founder trustees were: Francis Day (Chairman)
  Murray Hird
  Howard Vosper
  Brian Hope
  Mike Marfell-Jones
  John Peryer

With the retirement of Howard Vosper and Murray Hird, Eion McKinnon and Stuart Wheeler replaced them as industry representatives. Ian Parker and Andrew Malcolm replaced Eion McKinnon and Stuart Wheeler respectively. Mark Pattinson and Stephen Dil replaced Brian Hope and Andrew Malcolm respectively. During this time, Dr Peter Osborne was appointed as an Educational Representative. Upon his retirement, Anne McGuire was appointed in the capacity of both Educational and Maori Representative.

The Trust continued to act as the Advisory Committee to the Central Institute of Technology (CIT) and then the Wellington Institute of Technology (WelTec) and has developed a respect and understanding from members of those institutes for their diligence and hard work.

The Industry Training Act and the Education Amendment Act brought with them new challenges and a huge workload to understand the new training initiatives of Government. The formation of Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) was where the real challenge lay. By becoming the ITO for funeral services in New Zealand the Trust assumed responsibility for all funeral training in New Zealand. However the Trust was now in a position to access funding for training programmes and for completing a total re-write of the courses to meet the requirements of registering "Unit Standards" on the Qualifications Framework.

The implications were enormous. Our qualifications became National Certificates and Diplomas, recognised throughout New Zealand and overseas.

The Trust surveyed industry, carried out a training needs analysis and developed a strategic plan outlining a five-year programme. Advisory groups were set up to develop the unit standards, debate and develop assessment, moderation, accreditation and marketing plans and to package the new units into qualifications suitable to the Qualifications Authority. This was no easy task, and the work carried out in this area by members of the Trust and advisory group members should be acknowledged.

The projects were completed within the budget schedules determined prior to commencement, and were part-funded by the Education Training & Support Agency (ETSA). All Audit requirements were fulfilled. ETSA became Skill NZ, which is now part of the Tertiary Education Commission. With each change came new rules, new changes, new funding schedules and new people. All of which has created many hours of extra work for the Trust. Since the initial work of developing unit standards and qualifications was completed the Trust has not received any Government funding. This is due principally to changes in Government policy.

The Trust established a Secretariat in Wellington in 1995. This was handled by Mrs Joan Sawkins in a very professional manner. Upon Joan’s retirement, Mrs Fiona Gillespie was appointed Secretary of the Trust during the middle of 2003.

The ongoing work of the Trust in developing and presenting high quality seminars and workshops to the funeral and allied professions continues to be a major focus.

While work of the Trust carried out over the last few years has been challenging, frustrating, interesting and rewarding, it is by no means over. The on-going responsibility of the Trust as a Industry Training Organisation brings with it a commitment to implement and review current and future training modules and programmes to reflect and meet the demands of industry and society.

What Is A Trust?
A “charitable trust” is any trust or society which exists exclusively or principally for charitable purposes entitling the trustees or society to become incorporated under the Charitable Trusts Act 1957. The society or trust exists for the benefit of the community or section of the community ie it has a public element. A trust is run entirely by the trustees in accordance with the terms of the trust deed or constitution. The trustees may or may not be replaced every year depending on the terms of the trust deed or constitution.

The FSTT Trust Deed had previusly stated that “The wish" (but not binding obligation) was for the following composition:

  • Three members representing or nominated by the Funeral Directors Association of New Zealand
  • Three members representing or nominated by the New Zealand Embalmers Association
  • Two educational representatives
  • One other person

March 2017 FSTT agreed to a variation of its Trust Deed with representation then becoming not less than four or more than seven Trustees:

  • One Trustee representing or nominated by FDANZ
  • One Trustee representing or nominated by NZEA
  • One Trustee representing the interests of Education
  • Up to four further Trustees having regards to the need to maintain and appropriate balance of skills and experience on the Board.

At this time the positions of Deputy Chair and Executive Officer were also removed.
Trustees appoint their Chairman of Trustees (from time to time).
Trustee term of office is for three years from date of appointment and Trustees are eligible to be reappointed unless they have already served four continuous terms in office as a Trustee.
This does not prevent a person from being appointed as a Trustee if that person had stood down from the office as Trustee for at least one year.

Aims of the the Funeral Service Training Trust are:

  • To educate New Zealand funeral directors, embalmers and students in all matters concerning the funeral industry
  • Promoting exchange between New Zealand and other countries of educational material in the field of funeral directing and embalming
  • Encouraging funeral director company programmes and self-help educational seminars throughout the South Pacific region
  • Fostering and encouraging supporting industries to be involved in the education and training of the funeral industry
  • To work with other agencies both in New Zealand and overseas in support of the above aims.

What Is An ITO?
Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) are recognised by the Board of the Tertiary Education Commission under the Industry Training Act 1992. They are established by particular industries and are responsible for:

  • Setting national skill standards for their industry
  • Providing information and advice to trainees and their employers
  • Arranging for the delivery of on and off-job training (including developing training packages for employers)
  • Arranging for the assessment of trainees and arranging the monitoring of quality training
  • FSTT was one of the first organisations to be granted ITO status.

Representation On FSTT

Current Trustees (as at June 2017)
Name Trustee Representing First Year of Appointment
John Schipper (Chair)   2007
John Duncan   2011
Stephen Dil   Reappointed 2014 (first appointed in 2002)
Tony Garing FDANZ 2015
Andy Ellis NZEA 2016
Dr Julia Hennessy Education August 2017
Kay Paku   August 2017

Once approved and appointed by the Trust, each representative serves a three-year term, when they would be due to retire but would be eligible for re-appointment as long as they had served no more than four continuous terms.

Previous FSTT Trustees and Office Holders

Previous FSTT Chairpersons
Francis Day 1991-2004
Mike Marfell-Jones 2004-2015
John Peryer 2015-2017
John /Schipper 2017-
Previous Trustees Representing FDANZ
Brian Hope 1991-2001
Howard Vosper 1991-1993
Eion McKinnon 1991-1994
Mark Pattinson 2001-2006
Ian Parker 1994-2007
Bruce Hanrahan 2006-2008
Tony Garing 2008-2009
Stephen Dil 2007-2011
Danny Langstraat 2009-2015
Tony Garing 2015-present
John Duncan 2011-2017 (but still a Trustee)
Previous Trustees Representing NZEA
Murray Hird 1991-1993
Stuart Wheeler 1993-1996
Andrew Malcolm 1996-2002
Francis Day 1991-2004
Stephen Dil 2002-2007
Simon Manning 2004-2007
Alistair Ferguson 2010-2016
John Schipper 2007-2017 (but still a Trustee)
Previous Trustees  
John Peryer 1991-2017
Previous Trustees Representing Education
Prof. Mike Marfell-Jones 1991-2015
Anne McGuire 2003-2017
Previous Trustees Representing Maori  
Anne McGuire 2003-2017
Previous Deputy Chairs  
Brian Hope  
Ian Parker 2002-2007
Stephen Dil 2007-2011
John Schipper 2011-2014
John Peryer 2014
John Schipper 2015-2017
Previous Exeuctive Officers  
John Peryer 1991-2017

Representing Educatio
Initially, the Principal (or his deputy) of the CIT had been a member of the Trust, although often not attending meetings or directly involved.

Dr Michael Marfell-Jones, originally is his role as Head of Health Sciences and then as Head of School CIT represented CIT. Since he moved from CIT, Prof Marfell-Jones has been reappointed to the FSTT as an education representative.

From June 1998 the CIT was represented by Dr Peter Osborne who was Assistant Deputy Principal Academic until CIT closed in Dr Osborn was reappointed to FSTT as an education representative until June 2002.

Ms Anne McGuire was appointed to the Trust in June 2003 to fill the vacancy left by Dr Osborne, Anne retired from the position in 2017.

Dr Julia Hennessy was appointed to the Trust in August 2017 to fill the vacancy left by Anne McGuire. Dr Hennessy was previously WelTec Executive Dean Faculty of Health Business and Service Industries and is currently President of Auckland Institute of Studies New Zealand.


Mrs Joan Sawkins 1996-2003
Mrs Fiona Gillespie 2003-current