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Aug 4, 2021

Not only a funeral director – Neil Little


Music has always been Neil’s passion so how did he end up becoming a funeral director?

When I headed to London at the tender age of 19 to embark on an OE, a career in funerals was the furthest thing from my mind. Music had been my main hobby growing up and could it lead to a career?

Thirty five years later, the music career hasn’t gone too well but the thirty something year career in funeral service has given me an incredible life experience. Challenging, confronting, emotional but incredibly rewarding and satisfying at the same time, having the opportunity to work with families as they navigate saying goodbye to their loved ones has been very special . So when I was due to head home from London and I expressed an interest in trying my hand at funeral service I received what turned out to be sage advice from Dad, “Why don’t you gain some experience elsewhere and see if it’s what you really want to do?” I did and it was, the rest is history.

A career in funeral service does take a lot of commitment. Growing up with a parent involved in funeral service did make me aware of how important the ability to maintain a life away from your job is important. I was aware that it was often Mum doing the drop offs, taking me to sports games and other activities. The unpredictability of funerals and being “on call” meant sometimes family has to take a back seat. It was worse growing up, “Get off the phone, your fathers on call”, I hear Mum say. No mobile phones or pagers then. Thankfully, my three daughters have never had to hear me say that and I hope I haven’t missed too much as they grew up. Technology for all it’s demands has certainly made it easier to maintain some semblance of work/life balance.

On that subject, spending time with my long suffering wife and three daughters is very important to me. We’ve been blessed to share some incredible experiences together over the years, particularly through travel and I treasure these. I’m an immensely proud husband and Dad. They’re amazing. Music is my first passion and I love nothing more than joining my four good friends in our covers band No Expectations and playing a gig for people wanting to enjoy our music and have a good time. I most enjoy going to gigs and concerts to experience the passion and emotion live music brings. It’s like nothing else. I’m an average golfer and poor fisherman but love spending time doing both of these as well.

Following family succession and an extended period of travel I am now in a governance role on the board of Davis Funerals and the wider PFP NZ Ltd group of funeral businesses. I also enjoy board roles on the The Funeral Trust, the Funeral Directors Association vehicle for preplanning and prepaying your funeral and my former school, Marcellin College. I also assist my wife Angela with a business we part own and she manages.

I’ve been fortunate to have the career I’ve had starting out as an embalmer and funeral director before taking on management of the business alongside my nephew Craig. We’ve been a great team and worked together to grow Davis from the strong foundation created by our fathers, Cliff and Cedric. They set the tone for families first, care and attention to detail that underpin everything we do. I’ve also had the privilege of serving as President of the Funeral Directors Association on NZ, my Rotary Club and as chair of our church Parish Council.

Would I do it all again? Yes I would. There are always things you wish you’d done differently but one thing’s for sure I remain immensely proud of Davis Funerals and the service it provides the community. I have sometimes referred to myself as an accidental businessman and maybe I should be back arranging funerals. I have been fortunate to work alongside a special group of people that have dedicated so much energy to making Davis the trusted firm that it is. They’re truly unique and I’m proud to call them my colleagues. So, who knows what the next chapter holds for me. We’ll see! Perhaps it’s time to write a few songs.

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