Waikato-Tainui marae examine tangihana lore and law

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

Waikato-Tainui marae are taking a fresh look at their protocols when dealing with tūpāpāku who have suffered a traumatic death and tangihana procedures.

Ngaa Marae Toopu chair Brad Totorewa says it’s about ensuring they uphold their lore practices within the law.

Totorewa says bereavement will be felt by everyone.

“The caretakers of our ancestral burial mountain of Taupiri, indeed our team of grave diggers had concerns or apprehensions in dealing with deaths due to illnesses of today and the new policies with burial,” he said, “so everyone understands.”

Māori are among the highest stats for sudden deaths such as suicide, murder, road deaths, and sudden infant death syndrome. Dealing with law procedures involving police is a priority.

“Some of our Māori people don't understand what the legal requirements are at the time,” said Sergeant Wayne Panapa.

“They tell us when Pākehā policeman come to the home they get angry. They think they've come to take their deceased away.”

In 1978 Te Arikinui Te Ataairangi Kaahu gathered all marae within Waikato-Tainui under Ngaa Marae Toopu as caretakers of the King Movement.

“Death is sacred,” said elder Rovina Maniapoto of Ngāti Maniapoto. “Where are our customs within this, even though a person is deads. Our ancestors said people will die. So the question is how do we prepare this future generation.”

“When our families experience the death of a loved one, these discussions will better develop the skills and pathways to lessen the burden during bereavement,” said Totorewa.

The gathering concluded the conference with a trip to Taupiri mountain to discuss the burial aspects and legal requirements of tangihanga.