Personal accounts of near-death experiences (NDEs) are wanted for the first large-scale study of the phenomenon in New Zealand.
The study is being undertaken by Massey University‘s Dr Mary Murray, a sociologist and senior lecturer, and Dr Natasha Tassell, a psychology lecturer. They have set up the Massey University NDE Research Group whose purpose is to investigate NDEs in New Zealand and is the first research group of its kind in the country.
The researchers say:
Since the time of Aristotle, NDEs have been reported in most cultures around the world, and some suggest about 15-25% of people have experienced them. Recently, a number of large-scale studies have been conducted on NDEs in places like the UK, Netherlands, and USA, however, no studies have investigated these experiences in New Zealand. Our study is the first of its kind to be conducted in New Zealand, and by doing this research we hope to gain a greater understanding of what these experiences are like for people in New Zealand. 
Dr Murray’s fascination with the subject stems from a long-term interest in the sociology of death and dying. She is particularly intrigued by how the NDE confounds notions of the absolute separation between life and death, or the living and the dead.   “There are lots of different explanations for the phenomenon,” she says, “but nobody knows for sure.”
Dr Tassell’s primary interest concerns how NDEs indicate the survival of consciousness after death, and the potential psychological benefits of NDEs for experiencers.
Dr Tassell herself had a personal experience after she simply felt unwell, lay down and underwent the process. She recalls travelling down a tunnel with a bright light at the end of it. She cannot explain her own experience but feels the lucid and memorable nature of it is consistent with what is reported by others.
“It’s a known phenomenon but we don’t know how it occurs and exactly how prevalent it is,” says Dr Tassell.
How to participate
If you are a Kiwi over the age of 21 years and feel you have had an NDE at some time in your life, then the research team invite you to take part in this study. You will be asked to fill out an anonymous questionnaire relating to your experience.
If you would like to participate, first read through the Information Sheet (link below) and then click on the Questionnaire link for the online questionnaire. At the completion of the questionnaire, you will have the opportunity to indicate whether you would also like to be interviewed about your experience. If you do not wish to complete the online questionnaire but would still like to participate, you can contact the researchers directly and they will make arrangements.
- Information Sheet
- Dr Mary Murray: M.Murray@massey.ac.nz
- Dr Natasha Tassell: N.A.Tassell@massey.ac.nz
If you have any further queries or would like to know a little bit more about the study before you participate, please contact either Mary or Natasha.
 Near-Death Experiences (NDEs): A New Zealand-Based Study. Information Sheet. Massey University NDE Research Group, NZ.
 Murray, M. (2007) Laying Lazarus to rest. Death, Dying and Disposal, 3rd Global Conference, University of Bath, UK, September 2007.
 Murray, M. (2010) Laying Lazarus to rest: The place and the space of the dead in explanations of near death experiences. In: Maddrell, A. and Sideway J. D. (eds.), Deathscapes: Spaces for Death, Dying, Mourning and Remembrance. Surrey: Ashgate, to be published December 2010. ISBN: 978-0-7546-7975-2
Near-death continues to intrigue, Manawatu Standard, 18 Dec 2009.
For more of my posts about near-death experiences, here’s an index: