Cremation or Burial

By Wena Harawira
  • Northland
  • Auckland
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty
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As the world changes so too do Māori protocols when mourning the loss of a loved one. Nowadays more and more people are considering cremation as opposed to burial. It raises the question of where we are headed to now.

Approximately 70% of people who die in New Zealand are cremated.

More Māori are choosing cremation too.

One Tūhoe hapū were thrown when it came to dealing with cremains from overseas.

Te Makarini Temara says, "The word came that cremains were being brought on to the marae. Almost immediately, the speakers were concerned about proper ceremony. It took them by surprise."

But the issue was managed by following tradition.

"What's more important caring for grieving families or turning your back on them?" saysTemara.

Cremains are portable, don't decompose, and can fit into small plots. Cremation can be cheaper than burial too.

In Whakatāne, it costs $800 to $1800 for a full service and cremation. Adding funeral home costs pushes that to about $2000. 

Families can pay more than $5000 for a three-day funeral at the marae.

One advantage of cremation is that ashes can be shared.

The family and relatives of James Takamore spent seven years in court fighting over his remains. Māori academic Ranginui Walker arranged for his family to keep some of his ashes, the rest were given to his tribe, Te Whakatōhea. 

"To debate ideas and information, to think through the issue." says Temara

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