Māori funeral director calls on iwi to help their people with funeral costs

By Wepiha Te Kanawa

A Māori funeral director is calling on all iwi across the country to help their people out with funeral costs. 

Statistics New Zealand says Māori deaths are on the rise in NZ every year and funeral costs aren't going to change either. 

It's something that can't be helped, which is why representatives from the funeral industry gathered at New Zealand's first funeral trade show in Auckland to offer advice about funerals.

Manager of Southern Sector Cemetery, Noelene Mudgway says, "I think there is a lot of a taboos or things that people don't know about the funeral industry, they're not quite aware of the choices and options that are offered to them."

Over 30,000 people die in New Zealand every year, so the industry isn't short of business.

"The Māori population is growing in size and it's also gradually getting older, so we will expect to see more deaths with Māori ethnicity in the future" says Kim Dunstan of Tatauranga Aotearoa.

A Māori funeral director says one of the main concerns for Māori whānau is affordability.

Funeral director of Waitakere Funeral Services, Francis Tipene says, "Feeding the people who have come to show their respects, fuel for the cars that carry the body and other family members, a donations to the marae and the head stone cost too."

He also says iwi need to step up and help whānau.

"I'm challenging all iwi, to put aside some funds to help people out during a funeral, because Māori are at their peak during a tangihanga," adds Tipene.

The funeral trade show will be held annually.  Francis Tipene hopes that in future, iwi leaders offer financial assistance to Māori whānau who struggle through a time of need.