Funeral director Francis Tipene of Tipene Funerals says whānau are still disheartened with the new guidelines for tangihanga, but “things are much better than they were”.
The Ministry of Health announced new guidelines on March 30 for funerals and tangihanga, allowing a restricted number of family members within the same bubble of the deceased to visit them in the funeral home.
The old guidelines meant whānau who had lost loved ones had just three options: immediate burial, immediate cremation or refrigeration, and only one member of the whānau could visit the funeral home to facilitate arrangements.
“Whānau in the same bubble as the tūpāpaku are allowed to come into the wharemate to a maximum of 10 people and of course they're allowed to follow to the urupa as well, says Tipene.
“So although still disheartening for a lot of people, I think the message about the COVID-19 is really taking effect and taking place in people’s hearts and minds.”
He says whānau are also feeling grateful for technology which allows them to live stream into a funeral service.
“Those who aren’t present are able to come in on live streaming and be part of that service. The most important thing during this whole isolation period and, I think, especially during tangihanga is connection.”
Tipene says kaimahi at his funeral home have also found the change very challenging.
“It has turned my head into a nightmare at the moment, he says.
“As long as our whanau are okay with everything under the circumstances which they have been I’m okay for now.”