Throughout the different levels of lockdown for Covid-19, since the beginning has spurred a barrage of uncertainty within the smaller communities of the Eastern Bay of Plenty.  Particularly tangihanga and funerals, where families are torn between the health and wellbeing of their culture, others and self – not looking after oneself today challenges the notion of what happens tomorrow.  Did Jacinda make the right call to go into lockdown?  What about changing the levels of lockdown?  I suppose a major question for me, is what is expected of small communities coming out of lockdown, when it comes to funerals.  Would people feel comfortable meeting and greeting again?  Would online services – zoom, skype and live streaming be our new normal?  Would the fear of being around others cause more problems – anxiety, depression, mistrust?  What would a Tangi look like on the Marae, are they ready for coming out of lockdown?

Could the major instigator of vagueness, come from social media, who highlight the worst scenario’s that could possibly happen if people do not do their part – communicate or self-isolate.  Governments have the delightful duties of giving the nation updated information about current situations for communities to try and function, driving a wedge of scepticism and uncertainty between facts and information shared.  Another movement towards doubt is the upcoming elections, which allows the opposition parties of government an opportunity to share their optimism/opinions about what they could have done better in these difficult times, adding more reservations about who the people (New Zealanders) have chosen.

Coming to the question of are we ready to meet and greet again?  It would seem people, whanau and families are over it, they are looking to get back to how things were, but at the same time still wanting to be cautious adding to the confusion of, are we in or are we out?  With the New Zealand nature of being adventurous it is hard for families to say online services is the new way as part of that adventurous nature is the need to physically show our warmth when death is concerned, being around and being around.  Leading to the final question are Marae ready to come out of lock down?  With what is still happening overseas, opens the door to the looming idea of extinction to a culture.  Questions of what happened in the past with land wars, black-flu and the world wars still imprinted on the memories of those who have lost someone or something, still being tender and fresh.  Resurrecting the concept of extinction – not so much of the people but the traditions of the people.  Affecting the way people are doing things by making sure their elders are looked after and making sure the traditions are secure.  Are they ready – only time can tell, as whanau try to prepare for a disease that knows no boundary.

Hemi Mooney – Senior Funeral Director