A British climber killed in New Zealand has been cremated
after his distraught mum couldn't afford to fly his body
Robert Buckley, 31, died while climbing Mt Sefton in Aoraki
Mt Cook National Park on September 14.
Mr Buckley, an engineer from Shoebury in Essex, had been
living and travelling New Zealand since 2010, spending the
last year working as a drainlayer on the post-earthquake
His family told the Echo newspaper this week that they could
not afford the 5000 pounds (NZD$9663) to fly his body home or
attend his funeral after his travel insurers refused to pay
Mr Buckley was farewelled at a cremation ceremony in
Christchurch on Monday.
Friends and workmates attended the small service, but his
mother Gill Ray, a part-time cleaner, was heartbroken at
"Flying 24 hours to get there, knowing what you're going
there for, is not something I want to go through. And of
course the cost of flying there is another thing I can't
afford," the 58-year-old told the Echo.
The family had thought Mr Buckley's travel insurance would
allow them to bring his body home, but were told because he
had been resident in New Zealand for more than six months, it
was no longer valid.
"I was really angry about it, but it is hard to think
straight at the moment, to be honest," she said.
"It is such a hard time. I can't get used to talking about
him saying how he 'was' instead of how he 'is'."
Now, the family will instead be flying his ashes home from
New Zealand for a memorial to be held there.
He'd returned to the UK for his father's funeral last May, in
what was his last visit home.
Mr Buckley had attempted to climb to Sefton Bivvy from Mt
Cook Village on September 14 with three other young men.
He was within 80 metres of the bivvy when he slipped and fell
700 metres to his death, police said.
Police described the climbers as being inexperienced and
insufficiently equipped for the climb.
When an overseas visitor dies as a result of an accident in
New Zealand, ACC is able to provide a funeral grant.
It is not known if Mr Buckley's family have received the
money, which can be used for burial, cremation, and related
Many New Zealand Herald readers were moved to help Mr
Buckley's family before it was known that he'd already been
Several people offered financial help through the paper's
"Oh that is shocking... that poor family... surely NZ can
help this family. Bad enough loosing a son let alone not been
able to bring his body home or attend the funeral. How
incredibly sad," wrote one reader.
Another suggested starting a trust fund, and pledged the
"I don't have much money of my own, but I would gladly give
up whatever I had so that his family can bring him home and
go through their grieving process," said another.