Māori funeral director urges rūnanga to help whānau struggling with funeral costs

By Wepiha Te Kanawa

A Māori funeral director is urging Rūnanga to increase the support they provide to whānau struggling with Tangihanga costs.

A handful of Māori funeral directors were among hundreds in attendance at Funeral Directors Association New Zealand’s (FDANZ) first Funeral Trade Show in Auckland today.

At the event, Francis Tipene the Director of Waitakere Funeral Services, Tipene Tangihanga expressed concern over the lack of support available for Māori whānau dealing with the passing of a loved one.

Tipene believes Iwi organisations should help struggling whānau financially with funeral costs to help ease pressure during such a difficult period.

Mr Tipene told Te Kāea, The biggest issue affecting our (Māori) people today during tangihanga is definitely money, some funeral homes ask for a deposit before releasing the body to the family, which is just added pressure.

Noelene Mudgway Manager of Southern Sector Cemetery’s for Auckland Counsel agrees that the discussion of Iwi helping whānau during the Tangihanga period should be started. 

Mudgway says financial pressures have meant more whānau are turning to cremation as opposed to traditional burial, “There’s a slow turn for Māori to cremate more, we are definitely seeing that go up, as well as pacific island communities.”

Wepiha Te Kanawa will have more on Te Kāea at 5:30pm