Ngāti Hine leaders prioritise health of people

By Dean Nathan

We need to prioritise the health of our people, this was one of the main messages coming out of Ngāti Hine regarding the government's guidelines for funerals under alert level 2. 

The government guidelines for tangihanga were on today's agenda of this zoom meeting of Ngati Hine leaders.

"I’m asking Ngāti Hine to take a careful look in front of you and discuss ways in which we can carry our traditional practices to farewell our loved ones who have passed on.  Priority needs to be on the mourners coming to the marae to pay their respects," says Waihoroi Shortland (Tekau I Mua).

Government guidelines were thoroughly tested this week when one of the many marae in the province of Ngāti Hine opened to host a tangi.

"Some came crying and upset not only for the deceased but for the changes we’ve had to introduce in our ancestral house," says Len Bristowe (Te Orewai).

"Along with our elder Waihoroi, we shared with them that we weren’t doing that to stop their grieving process for the deceased but to care for all and ensure we aren’t spreading the pandemic amongst those coming to farewell the deceased."

Shortland says we should not be too concerned about the government guidelines for tangihanga because the present situation will pass.

"Find the simple way to make it easy and do it in a way that we can all come out of the darkness of grief into the world of light.

"There is no use in being agitated and enraged or angry at the world because we’re all being tested by the situation.  Our traditions will not be lost but the health of our people could be jeopardised if we do not carefully consider the living as of priority."