Native Affairs - Kahu Aroha a journey of love

By Renee Kahukura-Iosefa
  • North Island: West Coast

Mother-of-five Tina Tupe of Taranaki is dying of cancer. To help her children confront a life without her she is planning her own tangihanga in a very special way - by  weaving a traditional Māori burial cloak called a kahu wakatere. 

“I’m preparing to die which I think is quite a privilege. I'm able to be part of what I want and to put things together," Tupe says "That's not to say that I’m not scared because I’m shit scared, but not of dying  Ut’s more of the unknown. Not knowing how my kids are going to be and not being there to guide them.”

Tupe has called on local Taranaki weavers, family and friends to come together to weave a kahu wakatere which she will be buried in.

“The process has been a spiritual one. This is the first time I have ever seen a kahu wakatere from the start. Mine is going to be like a princess, I'm going down like the princess that I am.”

Kim Kahu is a Taranaki weaver who's  helping to guide the making of the kahu wakatere.

She says, “This all part of the revitalisation of an age old Māori ritual taking into account Tina special request. I like to look at it as a kahu aroha  - something that is made with love. The whole woven whariki is made from the hands of the people that love you and you love back in return and a community coming together to do that.”

As Tupe endures her final battle with cancer, she believes weaving her kahu wakatere is helping her children. 

Her only daughter Roni Tupe (15)  says, “It's kind of hard for me because I’m the youngest they got to have her much longer than I do. But now we know it’s going to come,  we actually do have to prepare.”

Tupe is unsure how much time she has left, but she’s grateful for the love and support of family and friends.  

Tupe says, “I'm honoured to have lots of beautiful minds and hands come in and be part of something so beautiful that I'm going to be buried in."