"We know how to run our tangihanga right" - Francis Tipene

By Bronson Perich

Funeral Director Francis Tipene says Māori know how to protect themselves at tangihanga and should be left to self-regulate.

“We (Māori) know how to run our tangihanga right,” Tipene says.

“Our people are good at protecting themselves. I don’t see why they would want to put each other in harms way. Especially tūpāpaku (corpse) or a tangihanga.”

He applauds the efforts of iwi and hapū around the country to protect their communities while preserving their tikanga. Tipene wants the opportunity for his industry to create their own guidelines.

“If we were given that opportunity as funeral directors and as whānau to do that with our loved ones and tangihanga that would be great,” he says.

Funeral directors have been at the forefront of enforcing COVID-19 safety measures. However, Tipene feels that the government didn’t heed their advice.

“I don’t see where the consultation took place … it never really happened.”

Tipene recalls ‘ripping people apart’ and reminding people at alert level four to maintain social distancing. But now he feels that the government is exerting too much authority.

“Again we should have had some trust, put into the people, some consultation, let’s work together on this.”

He is open to the possibility of joining with other stakeholders to present their ideas before the government.