Manager of a funeral home is an unusual occupation. Kiri Randall takes pride in a job that honours people’s memories.
WORDS JENNY RUDD / PHOTOS SALINA GALVAN
You have to have a calling for this job; I love what I do because it’s important,” says Kiri Randall, general manager of Tauranga’s Legacy Funerals. “I lead a team diverse in background, belief and gender, who are united in our desire to create a unique funeral for every single person. And we do that with passion and purpose.”
They’re uplifting words from someone whose business could not be more sombre. Kiri says death is a difficult subject, “but we’re relaxed about having those hard conversations because they’re necessary to provide the best possible funeral to honour someone’s life”.
Kiri has worked at Legacy Funerals for 11 years. It’s been an interesting time since she arrived to assist with accounts and office management, as she’s witnessed the transformation of the business into its current philanthropic model. Legacy Funerals is owned by Legacy Trust, which distributes all profits back to the local community – that’s $3 million to date. With the recent purchase of Cambridge Funerals, the same model will be used in Cambridge to benefit the Waikato community. “Helping distribute these funds and meeting those who benefit is rewarding and motivating for me and my team,” says Kiri. “It adds another dimension to the importance to us of doing a great job.”
In recent years, funerals have changed with the shape of families. Kiri says, “It’s not unusual to organise a funeral for two exes and a current spouse along with many children, some of whom knew their parent well and some who didn’t.” It sounds like a minefield. But thanks to her considered, compassionate approach, when talking to Kiri, I feel so comfortable and secure that I’m certain she can navigate even the most complex family dynamics. “Everyone who walks through our doors is different, but they all have one thing in common: they’ve lost someone,” she says.
Legacy Funerals has the exclusive use of three venues: Tauranga Park, Woodhill and Legacy Gardens. As the world has become more relaxed about traditionally formal events, you might see a coffee cart at an early-morning funeral or grazing tables that encourage easier communication. Services can be held on the beach or in another place that holds special memories. The casket might be bright orange and beside a pot of markers so guests can write messages on it. Kiri and her team listen carefully to families and organise services that truly reflect the lives they’re honouring.
It’s an emotional time for every one of Legacy Funerals’ clients, so Kiri ensures she’s physically and mentally in good nick, thanks to pre-dawn runs up the Mount and leisurely weekends spent cooking lunch for friends. “I’m both Māori and Italian, so my life revolves around people, wine and food,” she says. “We’re gifted with insightful life lessons by everyone we help and work with. I use them to guide my own life, grasping every opportunity to live it to the fullest with my husband Sean and two beautiful daughters Madison and Taimana.”
I came away from meeting the dynamic yet calm Kiri with some of my own lessons about what it takes to do a great job in complicated circumstances, and leave everyone you meet in a better place than they were before.