Police will be asked to investigate a funeral gatecrasher who thumped a coffin and asked the deceased inside to "wake up.''
Jeanne Kiddie said yesterday she will be filing a complaint with the police over the "bizarre and frightening'' incident which shocked mourners at her father's funeral on Wednesday.
The incident began about 80 minutes into the service for Harold Ritchie, 90, at the John Rhind Chapel in Richmond, when a man aged about 20 in a suit walked up with a prayer book in his hands and began shaking the hands of family members.
No one questioned him because it was thought he knew Mr Ritchie.
He then went to the coffin and began chanting with his back to the mourners.
Said Mrs Kiddie: "He put his arms up in the air and he seemed to shudder, like he was vibrating. He was shouting in tongues.
"He picked up the photo of Dad from the casket and studied it for a while. Then he went down on his knees and shouted "Wake up Harold!" and thumped on the casket.
"I was horrified, absolutely horrified."
For a moment Mrs Kiddie and other family members, who were stunned, thought the mystery man was about to try and open thecoffin.
"Everybody was turning around and looking at each other. We were all sort of puzzled wondering 'Do you know this person?'."
He then turned to the mourners and bowed slightly, then went and sat down with a well-dressed companion, a man who described himself to The Star yesterday as a religious minister.
Speaking in an African-type accent, he would only say his name was Peter.
He told The Star that he was taken by surprise by what his companion, who he called Cameron, did.
He said he had gone to the funeral "to support'' Cameron, who had told him that he knew the deceased.
Peter said the incident was not an elaborate prank and had apologised to a family friend for what had happened.
Peter said Cameron had only been a member of his church for three weeks. Peter would not explain to The Star what his church actually was.
Asked how he felt about the added grief the incident had caused to the family, Peter said: "I was annoyed.''
He said Cameron was "charismatic praying'' and speaking in tongues which the general public would not understand.
However Cameron had stepped over the line by doing this uninvited at Mr Ritchie's funeral, he said.
But Mrs Kiddie did not believe Peter's explanation was genuine because he had not revealed who he or his church was.
He also did not try and stop the incident, she said.
"Those two had no business being there and I resent the fact they were...they were a public nuisance and what they did was unacceptable.''
Mrs Kiddie's husband, Ross, confronted the man after family members had carried Mr Ritchie's casket to the hearse.
The man told Mr Kiddie that he was a member of the Fellowship Church and he felt the need to "spread God's words".
John Rhind funeral director Lance Grey said that he thought what was happening was part of the ceremony until the man began telling Mr Ritchie to wake up.
"We had no idea who it was, it happened at a time when tributes were being paid to the deceased, and this was the last tribute, or so we thought.
"We thought it was very unusual."
Mr Grey said this is the first time he has heard of something like this happening in Christchurch.
Other funeral homes will be alerted, he said.
Mrs Kiddie said her father had a terrific sense of humour, but she did not think he would've found what happened at his funeral funny.
"I don't think he'd be very pleased. He would've said 'God, get this crackpot out of here!"'
Mrs Kiddie said the imposter needed to be stopped before he caused more grief to families.
Wellington's "grim eater"
In 2010 a man labelled the "grim eater" was discovered gatecrashing funerals in Wellington.
He attended up to four funerals a week over two months, eating the food on offer and taking home leftovers in plastic tupperware containers.
The fake mourner stopped attending funerals after a Harbour City Funeral Home staff member took him aside and told him he could still come but could not take food home with him.