Traffic lights strategy and tangihanga - how will it work?

By Whatitiri Te Wake

Tangihanga is the last opportunity for whanau to say farewell to their loved ones. It's also the space where Maori see tikanga in full flight.

However, with constraints during Covid-19, questions remain on whether the traffic light system will make things easier for grieving whanau or more difficult.

Covid has meant significant change for tangi - from storing tūpāpaku for weeks on end in the hopes of alert level shifts to allow for a tangi to having whaikorero on Zoom. Many have found this very difficult.

Francis Tipene of Tipene Funerals says navigating through the policy changes has not only been tough on them but on the whānau they serve.

On December 2 the country will move to the traffic light system. But for tangihanga there are two sets of rules for the vaccinated and unvaccinated.who

The new system will mean that at Red - If vaccine passes are in use, there can be 100 people who can attend. However, if the passes aren't used and unvaccinated attend, the numbers are limited to 10. In orange, if vaccine passes are used - there is no cap but if passes aren't used, the limit is 50.

Encourages vaccinations

And in Green, again no cap if passes are used - if they aren't it's capped at 100 with 1m spacing between them.

Whānau ora Minister Peeni Henare is confident the new system will be a way to encourage more Māori to get vaccinated.

"Tautoko ana i to mātou kia kī atu ki te Iwi Māori mehemea e hiahia ana kia whakatū hui ki runga marae, me whakawhiwhi to iwi ki te kano ārai mate ki te kore, ka tau ngā herenga o ngā mahi hauora ki runga i to marae."

"A funeral or tangihanga with a lot of unvaccinated people has the risk of potentially putting more people into hospital which we are trying to avoid."

National leader Judith Collins says the traffic light strategy has left many confused and that it's "completely bizarre".

Greens co-leader Marama Davidson sees the need to get vaccination rates up and believes decisions on tangihanga should be left up to haukāinga.

“I do think that marae and hapū will work better with whānau to set those rules and to set those guidelines.”

Auckland will start at red - the fate of the rest of the country will be decided by the cabinet on November 29