Death is a worldwide event, it will happen to all of us and how we respond to the thought of death is specific and influenced by our cultural worlds (Nikora, L. W., Masters-Awatere, B., & Te Awekotuku, N, 2012). Māori often act as if the Tangihanga is one of the only things that they possess that has not transformed over time and have a tendency to argue that it is one of the customs that absolutely remains as theirs and only theirs. Many aspects of the ceremony has changed. The religious aspects have been replaced by Christian ceremonies, but the basic elements of the gathering still remains (Oppenheim, 1973). This essay will look into the Māori cultural death system, which is also identified as Tangihanga, and how the meaning of death has changed over time due the influence of social, economic and spiritual factors.
Tangihanga also known as a Tangi or funeral ceremony is a continuous institution for the Māori people who are mourning the passing of someone who has passed on. There are a number of traditions, customs and crucial concepts that are involved when it comes to the Tangihanga relating to both the physical world and the theoretical world (Barlow, 1991). When it comes to the tangihanga, it is supposed to provide a culturally safe environment with a free, open and shared expression of grief and sorrow that is seen as helping to heal the individuals involved, we also have to remember that not only is tangi a time of sadness, it is also a time of rediscovering family ties, re-establishing tribal roots and seeking strength from one another (Ngata, 1987; Tangaroa, 1988). The dead play a big part when it comes to the Māori world and they are recognised at every Māori gathering (Salmond,1975).
Traditional death rituals and practices were enclosed with forceful tapu (prohibited), this isn’t as distinct today, but you should always ensure that you observe the laws of tapu in relation to death. If a person was near death because of illness, they would be removed from house and relocated in temporary hut away from main dwelling area (Best 1905). This would ensure that dying person would not actually die within walls of own home, which would leave the house in state of tapu and necessitate its desertion or destruction (usually by a fire) Voyković (1981). Today, the tupapaku (dead body) may lie in the meeting house, in the porch of the meeting house, or in a tent or building nearby, depending on the kawa (protocol) of that specific marae. After the burial, the kaumatua (elders) lift the tapu at the marae at the spot which the dead body lay. There are different methods of lifting the tapu of death instead of using the burning rituals which can be attempted by reciting a karakia, the sprinkling of water, or by consuming a ritual portion of cooked food or liquor (Hera, 1995).
Due to the lack of technology and transport, originally,the length of the tangihanga was often two to three weeks as the body was not buried whilst the mourners were still...