New president of Embalmers Association following family path

Dunedin's Jodie Hope will lead the first all-female executive team in the history of the New Zealand Embalmers Association.

Ms Hope was recently elected president of the association, following in the footsteps of her great-uncle Derek Hope (1979-81) and her father Michael Hope (1995-97).

She is the second female president; the first, Johanna Kinvig, was also from Dunedin and Hope & Sons.

Ms Hope, the New Zealand operations co-ordinator for InvoCare New Zealand, which bought Hope & Sons in 2018, said she felt "very privileged" to have been elected to the role.

"Becoming the president of NZEA means the world to me. It is an amazing opportunity to make a real difference for the many embalmers throughout New Zealand that are members of our association.

"These embalmers want to learn and grow and provide the best quality of service to those that are dealing with a death of someone close to them."

Continuing the family legacy was also very special. Each generation of the Hope family had helped many people within the profession and families throughout Otago.

"It is such an amazing feeling to have a chance to build on to our family legacy", she said.

Hope & Sons was established by Ms Hope’s great-great-grandfather in 1887. She joined the profession 10 years ago, having grown up working at the firm during the school holidays.

Funeral directing and embalming was a "normal part" of her family’s life, Ms Hope said.

She gained the New Zealand Diploma of Embalming in 2016 and received the Regal supreme award for top overall student.

Like most industries, the funeral profession had changed and evolved over the past few years and her goal was to help create environments for embalmers that allowed them to feel supported and to grow their knowledge and skills.

It was also about helping people and families outside the profession understand what an embalmer’s role was and to help them recognise what the value and importance of funerals were, no matter what the funeral looked like, she said.