The family of the United States honeymoon couple who suffered severe burns in the White Island eruption have said "thank you" for all the support in New Zealand.

Lauren Urey and her new husband Matthew were among 47 tourists believed to be on the island at the time of the explosion. Lauren's father arrived in New Zealand three days after the tragedy that has claimed 17 lives.

A number of visitors to the island during the eruption came from the Ureys' cruise ship, the Ovation of the Seas, which offered an excursion to the volcano.

In a message provided by the families of Lauren, aged 32, and Matthew, aged 36, they passed on sincere condolences to the families and friends of those who did not survive this tragic event; saying "our thoughts and prayers are with you".


"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," the statement said.

Lauren's mother, Barbara Barham, earlier told the Washington Post her newlywed daughter called her before the visit, excited about an action-packed day ahead.

"She said they were going to the volcano," Barham told The Washington Post.

"My husband was joking around and said, 'I hope it's not a live volcano'."

Actually, Lauren responded, it is. The Ureys had plans to visit White Island, but Lauren and Matthew, "weren't concerned that there was any chance of an eruption", Barham said.

Still from video shot by a tourist on a boat next to White Island just as the volcano erupted at 2.15pm on December 9. Photo / Instagram, Allessandro Kauffman
Still from video shot by a tourist on a boat next to White Island just as the volcano erupted at 2.15pm on December 9. Photo / Instagram, Allessandro Kauffman

In the message, the families also thanked "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"


The did not go into specific details about the condition of the couple out of respect for their 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," the message said.

A GoFundMe page has been created by some of Lauren and Matt's close friends.

The families said they support that effort and are asking for continued donations as both of them will be out of work for an extended period of time.

"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," said the Barham and Urey family.

There were 47 people on or near the island at 2.11pm on December 9 when Whakaari/White Island erupted, spewing gas and ash into the air.

Of those, police have now confirmed 17 have died, with two more officially still listed as missing.

The bodies of Whakatāne tour guide Hayden Marshall-Inman, 40, and Australian tourist Winona Langford, 17, have not been found and are believed to have been washed out to sea.