Te Whakatara! – Tangihanga and bereavement COVID-19

Moeke-Maxwell, Tess and Nikora, Linda Waimarie and Mason, Kathleen and Carey, Melissa ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2392-173X (2020) Te Whakatara! – Tangihanga and bereavement COVID-19. The Ethnographic Edge, 4. pp. 19-34. ISSN 2537-7426

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New Zealand responded swiftly to the Covid-19 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) to prevent the spread of sickness and prevent unnecessary deaths. The government initiated a four-level social distancing alert system with specified measures at each level to manage and minimise the risk of COVID-19. By late March 2020, Alert Level 4 required people to stay in their homes in their ‘bubbles’ or family units. Social contact was restricted other than for essential personal movement and travel was severely limited. The Ministry of Health (2020) produced tangihanga (funeral rituals) policy guidelines for Māori, requiring the immediate collection of the deceased’s body by a funeral director. Gatherings to do with death and post-death customs were severely restricted and all marae (indigenous gathering places, land, buildings) were closed and burials could only include the immediate family bubble. In this autoethnographic paper, we draw on one Māori family’s experience of the birth and death of a baby with an anticipated life-limiting illness, during the most restrictive lockdown phase, level 4. We describe the impact COVID-19 tangihanga policy restrictions had on the family. The guidelines prevented them from conducting timely customary internment rituals with support from kaumātua (older men and women) and whānau (family including extended family and friends) in accordance with their cultural preferences. To prepare for future pandemics we recommend mana whenua (local Māori who have authority over their lands and marae) have autonomy to plan and manage tangihanga to avoid unnecessary distress, particularly where there is a known palliative condition.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Date Deposited: 25 Mar 2021 01:39
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2021 05:32
Uncontrolled Keywords: COVID-19; death; end of life; funeral directors; indigenous; Māori; tangihanga
Fields of Research (2008): 11 Medical and Health Sciences > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111713 Maori Health
11 Medical and Health Sciences > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111799 Public Health and Health Services not elsewhere classified
11 Medical and Health Sciences > 1110 Nursing > 111099 Nursing not elsewhere classified
Fields of Research (2020): 45 INDIGENOUS STUDIES > 4507 Te ahurea, reo me te hītori o te Māori (Māori culture, language and history) > 450707 Te ahurea Māori (Māori culture)
42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4206 Public health > 420602 Health equity
45 INDIGENOUS STUDIES > 4510 Te hauora me te oranga o te Māori (Māori health and wellbeing) > 451008 Ngā wāhanga ora o te Māori (Māori life course)
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 92 Health > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920408 Health Status (e.g. Indicators of Well-Being)
E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society
Socio-Economic Objectives (2020): 20 HEALTH > 2004 Public health (excl. specific population health) > 200407 Health status (incl. wellbeing)
Identification Number or DOI: doi:10.15663/tee.v4i.77
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/41609

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