Māori worldview sees Tipene Funerals shine among the stars

By James Perry

Tipene Funerals, led by husband and wife team Francis and Kaiora Tipene, are one of three organisations shortlisted for the Tupu a Nuku award at next month's Matariki Awards.

Netflix picked up the hit TV show The Casketeers at the end of last year.  The global popularity has seen Tipene Funerals field calls from far and wide requesting their services.

Kaiora says they received a call from as far afield as Alaska, USA asking if she and Francis would like to relocate there and run their business. She described that as an honour and, as nice as it sounds, says they had to politely turn it down.

Creating their funeral director business using their Māori worldview as their foundation, has seen them become one of the industry leaders in Aotearoa. 

Kaiora says that other funeral directors around the country have reached out to them asking for guidance on helping prepare Māori people who have passed away, and how to help the grieving families.

She says that to be named as a finalist in the Matariki Awards is an honour, and she and her husband are humbled by the acknowledgement. The other two finalists are seafood giant Moana NZ and Whale Watch Kaikoura. 

Tipene Funerals are becoming accustomed to award ceremonies, having recently picked up the Kaiārahi Rakahinonga Māori award for Entrepreneurial Leadership at the Māori Business Awards.

For Kaiora, it's hard to comment on why she thinks her business is being recognised for doing their job, simply as it comes naturally to them.

She says others have told her it is because they do so with so much aroha, not only for the deceased but also for the grieving families and their iwi, something she says is most important.

If they are fortunate enough to pick up the Tupu a Nuku award next month, Kaiora hopes it helps to set an example to their children. She says that the honour will be a recognition of the hard work the staff of Tipene Funerals do and hopes it can make their iwi in the Far North proud.