Stepping into the General Manager's shoes at Purewa Cemetery and Crematorium might seem daunting after only 16 months in the industry but Alastair Crombie brings 30 years' experience in communications with a strong customer focus to the role.
Alastair will be Acting General Manager until the Purewa Cemetery Trust Board makes an appointment later in the year after a thorough search in Australia and New Zealand.
Born in Taihape and educated in Hamilton, Alastair's 30-year career as a director/cameraman and producer in the TV and film industry began when he started with a local television news crew in sound before working behind the camera. Discovering a natural talent for telling a story through film he has visited around 80 countries documenting life and events both great and humble.
Working as a cameraman for the BBC in Britain and being a senior cameraman for TV3 at its inception were highlights which sit along-side many other interesting projects. These include Whittakers chocolate ads filmed in Ghana, producing various music video clips in the 1990s and a world trip filming in prisons in Tonga, France, Romania, Ghana and Rwanda. He also worked with Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu for a week and was director of photography for the official documentary on the first Rugby World Cup.
But Alastair says the three years he spent working for World Vision International in Africa from 1995 to 1998 is probably closest to his heart and left a big impact on him.
"My wife and I were based in Kenya and I produced the bulk of the video communications coming out of Africa for World Vision International, " he says.
"We covered countries like Rwanda, Sudan, Somalia, Liberia and filmed the often gruesome events that happened there. Documenting famines, the Aids epidemic, civil war and terrorism were all part of the job along with filming many great development projects and stories throughout the continent."
Alastair says his way of coping with the horrors of what he saw was to keep focused on the professional job at hand - the technical requirements and the importance of telling the world these stories. While he had been working at a senior level for many years Alastair decided to complete a post graduate degree in communications at AUT in 2009.
It was his background in communications and a strong appreciation of customer service that led him to apply for the role of Assistant Manager at Purewa in May 2017. Of his time there to date, Alastair says he's proud to work for one of Auckland's best known and most highly regarded cemeteries.
"Purewa's position with 50 beautiful acres in the heart of the eastern suburbs offering families two chapels and two reception lounges, the largest number of options for ashes memorialisation in New Zealand and it's caring, committed staff makes it a place I'm proud to be associated with, " he says.
"I feel very fortunate to be able to work with the Trust Board which is committed to being at the cutting edge of new development for the cemetery in terms of buildings, grounds, technology and constant innovation and improvement. The funeral industry worldwide is changing and Purewa's Board and staff will ensure we stay at the forefront so we can continue to give families the best possible experience at a difficult time."