What takes place at a Māori funeral

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Why Māori funerals are so special.


The traditional customs surrounding a Māori funeral are a meaningful way to not only show respect and love for the deceased, but acknowledge and celebrate a beautiful life lived. Once someone has passed away it’s believed their spirit lives on as they join their ancestors in the spirit world, and Māori funerals are a time to grieve their departure from this earth.


Spending this time together is an integral part of the grieving process, and it starts with a Tangihanga – meaning time of mourning. Working with experienced Māori funeral directors, Hetherington Funerals understands and respects the different mourning traditions of all New Zealand and Pacific Island communities. We strive to offer a burial or cremation ceremony that closely matches those at home. We are also able to arrange a repatriation for those who wish to be buried in New Zealand. 

Valuing Tangihanga

Friends and family gather together for the valuable time of Tangihanga to support the whanau pani – bereaved family – and tell stories, share memories, laugh, and cry; a vital part of any mourning process. In some traditions the body is dressed in fine clothes and are never left alone, with people visiting to pay their respects and say goodbye.


After these few days of community and support, a Po Whakangahau is often held. Also known as a Po Whakamutunga, this night of singing, dancing, performances, storytelling, and laughter is a way to balance out the heaviness of the grieving process and provide some light for the difficult days ahead. 

Māori Funerals Perth

After Tangihana, the body of the deceased is typically buried to allow it to return to Papatuanuku – mother earth. This is often a small event with immediate family, as a larger funeral ceremony takes place the night before. Songs are sung, speeches are given, and a eulogy made by a close family member, with mourners sharing food together before singing and telling stories in a karakia – invocation.


Regardless of the family’s decision to bury or cremate, Hetherington Funerals can help with any form of traditional service by working with local Māori funeral directors who speak the language and understand the customs. We understand each island and community has its own traditions, and we respect their faith and the importance of traditional Māori funerals in Perth in saying goodbye to a loved one.

By | 2021-08-25T04:14:28+00:00 August 25th, 2021|Blog, Preplanning|0 Comments