Funeral directors disapprove of new tangihanga restrictions

updated By Rukuwai Tipene-Allen

Funeral director Michelle Pukepuke is heartbroken over the new Ministry of Health (MOH) guidelines surrounding funerals and burials.

“We tried to explain this morning to a MOH representative that children are going to die during this lock down.

“They want us to go into a home and take a child from their parents and that they won't see that child again, when we actually have an alternative,” Michelle Pukepuke says.

The new guidelines include:

* One person appointed to make all funeral arrangements.

* Whānau pani and other mourners prohibited from entering the funeral home for viewing tūpāpaku, karakia, poroporoaki and mihi.

* Funeral directors are encouraged to bury and cremate tūpāpaku quickly.

* If storage facilities are available, whānau may place the bodies of their loved one in cold storage for a funeral after the lockdown.

John Whaanga, MOH Deputy Director-General Māori Health, says that this not to trample on whānau traditions.

Funeral director Allen Pukepuke feels that the MOH should have consulted more widely with funeral directors before imposing these new measures.

“I'm certainly sure that a little more dialogue with us who are at the front line, with our people, would've made it a little bit more user friendly for whānau,” he says.

The MOH says that these measures are in place to protect whānau and keep people safe while the killer virus is around.

They add that conversations about alternatives are ongoing.

Michelle Pukepuke says, “They'll never get this time back. We'll get our time back to go to the zoo, to go to the beach, we'll have our weddings and our 21st.

“But our whānau are never going to get this time back.”

This policy will be in place until either the levels have lifted or an alternative measure is adopted.