Friday, June 14, 2013

Richard Ruru - Tangi

Richard Ruru
RURU, Richard Dick. - On 6th June 2013, aged 67 years. Loved brother and brother-in-law of Sadie and George, Michael, Noeline, Ivan, Joe, Jimmy and Gary. Loved uncle to all his nephews and nieces.
- A funeral service to celebrate Richard's life will we held at Paparaumu Marae, Paparaumu Road, Tirau on Monday 10th June at 11.00am. Broadway Funeral Home (Matamata) FDANZ

Published in Waikato Times on June 8, 2013


Inside the Wharenui

We, Richards "church" family, were invited up to have time with the family the day before the committal and burial. We were first greeted onto the Marae (Mar-rhye) at the gate and go into the Wharenui (whorry–new-e; meeting house).

 We are officially welcomed and are now considered part of the family of that tribe. We are sung to and then we are asked to join in and we took a short time for a sort of pre-funeral service. It is when the Maoris believe they are sending the spirit of the dead person on to the heavens, sort of releasing them.

Paparamu Marae

Then we all go in to the wharekai (whorry-ky) and have a two course meal. Tonight was poha and pork bones with hangi (hung-ey) vegetables but they do them in a modern steamer rather than the hole in the ground. There’s a lot of bread and butter, fried Maori bread and pudding of cake, fruit and custard. The tea is poured steaming from the pot and it already has the milk in it.

Waiting at the gate to be welcomed on

As guests you are waited on hand and foot and the family who are grieving their loss are fed this way the whole time they are there. Even while we were eating there were still two women with the body.
Back to the wharenui (you are not allowed to wear shoes in there) and the men sit at the front and women in the back or down the sides on mattresses, where they had more prayers and then an open time to say whatever you liked the good, the bad, the ugly, and funny things about the person.

About to be called on to the Marae

 After each person has said something the group you are with have to sing a song. I had been asked to take my guitar so we had something to sing with.
Then we are sent back to the dining room for more tea and cakes and then home when we wanted.
One thing about the Maori culture they sure know how to have a funeral or Tangi (Tongue-ey). It is a great time of just being real among the family and friends.

Removing footwear at the Wharenui

Iwi sorting equipment at the cemetary
 I have had a few of my overseas friends ask me about a Tangihanga, (Tongue-ey-hung-ah). or more commonly, Tangi which is the name for the Māori approach to the process of grieving for someone who has died. I will explain a little of what I see it as although practices and protocols can differ from iwi (ee-wee; tribe) to iwi. It is a common process that enables people to express their sense of loss, not only for their loved one, but for those who have passed before them. It certainly allows for a lot of grieving among family and friends while you are being looked after by others through this time. I must admit it is something that a lot of Europeans could learn from.

Traditionally, a tangihanga is held at a Marae), although sometimes they are also held at private residences and funeral parlours especially if it is a little complicated to get to the home Marae or to decide which iwi has more ownership. A Tangi will usually take place over three days, beginning when the person passes away and continuing after the burial (on the third day), until the rituals and ceremonies of grieving are complete.

Family waiting to follow the coffin

Once the body is allowed to be collected it will be taken in its coffin to the Marae and it will be placed in the Wharenui (Worry-new-ee) or meeting house in their coffin with the lid off so mourners can touch, talk to, kiss, hug and cry over the tūpāpaku (too-pahpah-ko; body of the deceased) to express their grief.

The coffin is carried down to the cemetery

They lie there until the funeral when the lid is put on. Family and relatives come and stay at the Marae and sleep beside the coffin and it is never left alone. A common belief is that the tūpāpaku should never be left alone after death, so close family members stay with the tūpāpaku as soon after death as allowed and throughout the tangi, supported by older female relatives. They will take few and short breaks, dress in black, and sometimes wreath their heads in kawakawa leaves. Around and in the coffin, flowers and items special to the tūpāpaku are placed and photographs of deceased relatives are placed around them.

The lowering of the coffin

Those who come to the Marae are welcomed with a pōwhiri (poh-whi-ree) during which speeches are made as if talking directly to the tūpāpaku. This fits with the common belief that the spirit remains with the body until the time of the burial. Each time someone speaks they must finish with a Waiata (why-are-tar; song) which is sung and it is an opportunity for the group supporting the person to speak. The waiata also removes tapu (restrictions).

Maoris always fill the grave in themselves
 Visitors come during the day, sometimes from great distances despite only a distant relationship, to address the deceased, show their respect for the person who has died and to offer support to the family. They may speak frankly of his or her faults as well as virtues, but singing and joking are also appropriate. Free expression of grief by both men and women is encouraged. It is also common practice to offer a koha (ko-ha), usually money, to the marae or family. This is to help with the costs especially if you stay for a meal. While the family who are mourning are at the marae all their meals are provided for, plus the expenses of living there so the donation of money helps pay for this.

The sun filtered through once Richard was buried
 On the last night, the pō whakamutunga (poo whak-are-mew-tong-are; night of ending), the mourners hold a vigil and at a time assigned by custom (sometimes midnight, sometimes sunrise) the coffin is closed, before a church or marae funeral service and/or graveside interment ceremony. This is usually Christian. As with the area the tūpāpaku lies, it is traditional for mourners to wash their hands in water and sprinkle some on their heads before leaving the cemetery.

The meal after the burial

Inside the Wharenui after the burial
 After the burial rites are completed, a hākari (hay-car-ee; feast) is traditionally served. Often after the burial, the home of the deceased and the place where they died are ritually cleansed with karakia (Cara-key-ah; prayers or incantations) and desanctified with food and drink, in a ceremony called takahi whare,(tar-car-he whorry) trampling the house. That night, the pō whakangahau (poo whak-are-kung-are-how; night of entertainment) is a night of relaxation and rest. The widow or widower is not left alone for several nights following.

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