June 4, 2023

‘I’d really like to find the owner’: Whānau has no luck reuniting box of ashes with owners after Cyclone Gabrielle

It's about the size of your average lunchbox.

A Whitianga whānau walking along their local beach got quite a shock when they found a strange white box.

The T. family, who wish to remain anonymous, had gone for a stroll along Buffalo Beach on Tuesday to see what treasures had washed ashore.

“We do that often after storms, because it washes up a lot of rubbish and things,” said the family’s mum.

The dad noticed a white object half-buried in the sand as they walked towards Whitianga wharf.

As the family got closer to the object, a white plastic box, the mum asked “what’s that?” to her husband, who instantly knew what it was.

Speaking exclusively to Newshub, the mother said she called Twentymans Funeral Services in Thames for advice.

The owner of Twentymans told her that the white box “definitely” contained human ashes, based on its description.

The box had no name or ID or company logo, but still had its bung in and was “really heavy” when the family took it home, the mother said.

“I Googled white plastic urn boxes as well and that [same white box] came up in a lot of the images.”

She had a few theories on what might have happened. Either it was taken down the river by raging floodwaters, or it got washed into the sea from waves eroding a beachfront property.

Given that a few people live on boats in Whitianga too, she thought “maybe during the storm it fell off a boat. A bit farfetched but who knows!”

“It looks stark white. I personally don’t think it’s that old.”

She posted on several Facebook pages, including Whiti ChitChat and Tairua ChitChat, but had no luck.

Commenters on Facebook suggested she take it to Police, but she said they’re busy “dealing with all that stuff in Napier”.

Some Coromandel residents are experiencing outages of internet or mobile networks, including Whitianga and Whangamatā, so checking Facebook is a little more difficult currently.

“I’d really like to find the owner.”

If you know who this box of ashes may belong to, you can get in touch with us at [email protected]

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