Marae closures see significant tikanga change for tangihanga in Panguru

By Whatitiri Te Wake

After 18 months of battling a global pandemic, Māori have had to make some of the most significant changes to tikanga seen in modern history.

Panguru, a small settlement in Hokianga, like many, is balancing the threat of Covid 19 and also upholding protocols during tangihanga, which is proving to be a difficult task.

Tangihanga is the quintessential part of Māori culture and has been described by experts as the centre point for Māori protocol.

As an added safety precaution, the locals in Panguru have closed the doors on six marae, encouraging a shift in tikanga to accommodate. Marae kaikōrero Doug Te Wake says as hard as it is, the community is doing its best.

“Kau nei mātou e kapi ana i ngā whakaritenga mo te tangi - tēnā te mea nui mo te tangihanga.. ko rukea hoki ngā mamae, ngā pouri, ngā awangawanga, ngā nawe. Ko tēnā hoki te mahi ā te whare.”

“We’re not doing away with our tikanga. The important thing for tangihanga is for you to get rid of the hurt, the sorrow and uncertainties – that’s the role of tangihanga on marae.”

Home marae

“He mōrikarika ki a tātou. Kau nei mātou i te noho, te awhi tetahi ki tetahi ki te tangi tahi kai tahi, moe tahi.”

“It's horrific. We aren’t able to be together, to help each other, to cry as one, eat as one.”

Tangihanga during the differing alert levels comes with its fair share of compromise. Whānau are creating makeshift marae at home, tūpāpāku are often put on the verandas at home to enable whai korero, karakia and waiata to take place.

“Ko te wā tuatahi tēnei mo ā tātou nei tūpāpāku. Kau nei ō mātou tūpāpāku ka noho ki roto i te whare. Kua Tūhoe marika o tātou nei tangi, ka mauria mai te kāwhena mai roto puta atu ki waho.

Ko Tūhoe marika, ratou e takoto ana i to ratou tūpāpāku ki waho i te whare.. koinei te wa tuatahi kua kite nei matou.”

“It’s a first for us. Our deceased are not indoors. Our tikanga now are like that of Tūhoe where the deceased are taken outside to mourn. They take their deceased outside as well.”

Technology in use

Although tangihanga under level 2 allows 100 people both indoors and outdoors, the people of this community are not taking any risks.

Ko tēnei wa hoki he 'pop up' marae kei roto i te kāinga, i te papa kāinga, he pai hoki mo mātou o konei, tini hoki nga papakainga, engari e aroha hoki ana ahau ki ngā whānau horekau o ratou papa kāinga ki konei.

"Now we're seeing pop-up marae in homes. It's okay for us here who have homes here but sad for the whānau who don't have homes here (to bring their deceased back to)."

Previously considered tapu in a tangi situation, technology is being relied on by whānau to be included for tangi procedures at home, accommodating those living beyond the borders.

“Mā rātou e kite i te kapinga o te kāwhena, ngā karakia, ngā himene, te tanunga me te hākari -  pai hoki i enei wā, ngā kamera te tangotango i nga whakaahua.”

“They can see the closing of the coffin, the prayers, the hymns, burial and even the hākari. It's okay in these times for cameras to capture these moments” he said.