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Tuesday 12 May 2020

Tangihanga restrictions are cruel, punishing and lazy

Despite the leadership that whānau, hapū and iwi have shown during the COVID-19 response, the Government’s decision to continue to enforce a total number of 10 people for tangihanga is cruel, punishing and lazy. 


Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā member, Associate Professor Dr Elana Curtis says last week the Government sought consultation on tangihanga guidelines for Alert Level 2 with iwi and Māori organisations, including Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā and yet the announcements on tangihanga restrictions to date are not in line with the advice that was provided to Government. 


“We are unhappy with yesterday’s announcement about tangihanga restrictions during Alert Level 2 and we tautoko the kōrero from many unhappy whānau about the restrictions,” Associate Professor Curtis said. 


“We believe that the restrictions are cruel and punishing. Limiting tangihanga to 10 people is not evidence based, nor is it realistic for whānau Māori. It shows a lack of understanding of the tangihanga process and fails to acknowledge the cultural significance of tangihanga.”  


“The current direction once again shows that Government has taken a one-size-fits-all approach to gatherings and they haven’t bothered to truly look at and consider alternative options and exemptions for tangihanga.”


“The restrictions also appear to be based on the spread of infection through clusters at a time when there was limited knowledge about the presence of COVID-19 in Aotearoa and therefore punishes whānau despite our increased knowledge and awareness.”


“We were clear in our recommendations that whānau could maintain safety at tangihanga and receive physical comfort from those within their existing bubbles.”


“It is a slap in the face for many whānau, hapū and iwi who have gone above and beyond to support and protect Māori, and non-Māori, living in their communities. 


At every alert level, Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā have expressed their concerns and dissatisfaction with the rigidity of the guidelines and the need for the Government to recognise and acknowledge that Māori take COVID-19 seriously. 


“The 1918 Flu Epidemic was a significant lesson learnt for Māori. We have not forgotten the tragedy that struck our people back then, and we have been proactive in protecting our whānau now,” Associate Professor Curtis said. 


“It is baffling as to why the Government needs to be constantly reminded that whānau, hapū and iwi understand the risks and we are more than capable and willing to protect ourselves.”

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