Whakaari / White Island eruption victims' family thanks New Zealand

1:15 pm on 24 December 2019

The families of a honeymooning couple injured in the Whakaari / White Island eruption are thanking those involved in the recovery and aftermath of the disaster.

American newly-weds Matthew and Lauren Urey.

American newly-weds Matthew and Lauren Urey. Photo: Facebook/Lauren Urey

American couple Matt and Lauren Urey, from Richmond in Virginia, had been on a dream honeymoon on board the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Ovation of the Seas, docked at Tauranga when the eruption began.

Afterwards, Lauren's mother Barbara Barham told The Washington Post they had been to hospital with severe burns.

In a statement released via police on Tuesday, the family said they firstly wanted to give their sincere condolences to the friends and families of those who did not survive the eruption.

"There are no words to express how horrible this has been for everyone involved, but we are very lucky and grateful that although Lauren and Matt are severely injured, they're still with us.

"From the moment we were notified of the eruption, we have received nothing but support from everyone here in New Zealand.

"The list of people we want to thank is endless, but we especially want to recognise the healthcare professionals working with Lauren and Matt who have done an incredible job dealing with an unprecedented situation, and we are eternally grateful to them for helping to save our loved ones.

"We also want to thank the generous, kind, and caring people of New Zealand who have offered to help in every way possible, the police department who have dedicated a team of wonderful individuals to help us in whatever way they can, and the American Consulate for their continued support."

They would not be giving out giving specific information out of respect for the couple's privacy.

"They are progressing as well as could be hoped for given the severity of their injuries, but they both have a tremendously difficult and long road to recovery ahead of them. We ask that you continue to send positive thoughts and prayers their way; they need them."

A GoFundMe page has been created by some of the couple's close friends.

The statement concluded: "This has been a difficult time for everyone involved, but New Zealand is an amazing country with amazing people who have helped us more than we could've ever hoped for. We want to wish everyone a happy Christmas and New Year. Sincerely, the Barham and Urey family."

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs