MINISTRY OF HEALTH LATEST UPDATE:   Māori tikanga and gatherings

Māori tikanga and gatherings – UPDATED advice

The Ministry of Health has now issued its advice:
• The situation has changed, and our Prime Minister’s address to our country yesterday highlights the need for all of us across Aotearoa, New Zealand to play our part to refrain from physical contact to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
• Physical contact is a way that COVID-19 can spread from person to person. We now have a strong need to vary our Māori tikanga and kawa to protect our whānau, hapū and iwi particularly those who are more vulnerable such as our kaumātua and kuia.
• This includes no longer hongi, kissing on the cheek, harirū, hugging and other forms of physical contact.
• Alternatives include, waving, smiling or other non-physical contact greetings.
• We want to acknowledge there are some marae and iwi (such as Te Atiawa and Ngāti Kahungunu) who have made adjustments to their usual tikanga and kawa practices in response to COVID-19. We know our people will do the right thing to protect our whānau, hapū and iwi.

Mass gatherings/events – NEW advice
The Government has recently issued advice about when to cancel mass gatherings/events. This is an important aspect of our public health strategy to delay the onset of community transmission of COVID-19, and to limit the infection’s spread if community transmission occurs.

Cancelling mass gatherings can help slow the spread of COVID-19 in New Zealand, reduce the number of people infected, and protect those who are more vulnerable to severe illness (such as our kaumātua). This framework will apply to non-essential gatherings (sporting events, music festivals, arts festivals and private events) and not to essential events (parliament, school, preschool, work, university).

Many groups including kapa haka groups, sports teams, whānau, hapu, iwi and Māori organisations and marae committees will need to work through how the cancellation framework impacts any upcoming events they are planning – including whānau reunions, hui/wānanga, and celebratory events like birthdays and weddings. It will be disappointing to have to cancel planned events, but this public health emergency will come to an end eventually and we will get through this. However, for right now, it is about doing what’s right to protect our people and our guests – manaaki tangata, otirā manaaki manuhiri hoki.

For more information about when to cancel mass gatherings, please go to:

For those who sadly have tangihanga, we kindly ask that you consider what variations to tikanga and kawa can be made to ensure manaaki tangata for all who attend. For example:

• If you are sick, please do not attend and please do not prepare or handle food intended for the tangihanga
• Consider carefully how to protect our most vulnerable people including limiting attendance and/or other measures to protect our koroua and kuia (our kaumātua)
• Consider limiting attendance generally including for instance sending whānau representatives, who can go on behalf of the wider whānau
• Consider alternatives to physical attendance including utilising technology that allows social connection without physical connection
• If you are attending, giving advance notice to the haukainga at the marae so they know who will be attending and can prepare for your arrival, and being supportive of any changes to tikanga and kawa put in place by the haukainga to enhance their ability to manaaki manuhiri
• As haukainga, make sure you are clear with manuhiri on changes to tikanga and kawa to and have sufficient cleaning products to support hand hygiene

Nororthland thland DHB Advice DHB Advice — Tangihanga/ Hura Kohatu/ Other events

• Our initial guidance for Tangihanga (based on Maori health provider advice), and should marae continue this kawa we are recommending that coffins, caskets and waka tūpāpaku kōpaki (flax woven casket or covers) remain closed and there is no contact with the tūpāpaku. We are also requesting that if waka tūpāpaku kōpaki are used, body bag linings must be used to prevent body fluid seepage. All surfaces should be wiped clean regularly as per Ministry of Health advice.
• In regards to Hura Kohatu and other events we are recommending that unless required these should be stopped (as per Ministry advice) until further notice to limit any possible unnecessary spread of this disease.
• Some marae in Tuwharetoa and other locations are choosing to close their doors for a period of time. We are supportive of this happening and ask that Marae committees and trustees review their decisions regularly in line with the advice provided by the Ministry of Health. The link to the COVID-19 website is provided here:
• Northland DHB Kaunihera Kaumatua will issue further advice once they have been briefed on 26 March 2020.
• Northland DHB will work with Iwi and hapu to distribute communication to marae and whanau.

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