Hannah Barr is a bright, bubbly 22 year old, who has turned a morbid fascination into a career.
Next month she will graduate from New Zealand's only embalming school after working as a trainee at a funeral home for the past three years.
Ms Bar said her fascination with how bodies were preserved after death was sparked when, at the age of 13, she saw her friend's mum lying in state.
"They kept her in really good condition and it was the middle of summer."
She began working as a trainee embalmer and funeral director when she was 19 years old.
Ms Barr had done a few days of work experience in a funeral home and had seen some deceased family members before starting the job, but it was all relatively new.
Funerals are a way for families and friends to say good-bye to someone, and "usually when people die they don't look their best".
Her job was to help them remember their deceased loved ones in a good way.
When she first started her job she was unsure about what she was taking on, but got over her jitters and has loved it ever since.
"I will do it forever, until I retire. I have a job to do and have to do it for these people."
To qualify for the embalming course you have to be aged over 20 and have at least one year of experience in the field.
The course covers a range of subjects such as chemistry, microbiology and human anatomy.
"It helps you make better decisions at work, what chemicals to use on particular bodies."
Her job starts with transferring the body to her funeral home, Wheeler's Guardian Funeral Home, in Porirua.
She undresses and washes the body, then replaces the blood in the body with chemicals to help preserve it.
She then dresses the body, and does their hair and makeup. The process takes between two and three hours.
Even though her role makes some friends a bit squeamish, being an embalmer was rewarding, Ms Barr said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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