Rangiwai B, Sciascia A. 2021. The impacts of COVID-19 on Tangihanga. Journal of Global Indigeneity. 5(1):1-14.
The influenza pandemic of 1918, which killed 50 million people, has been acknowledged as the most significant disease event in human history. In response to the pandemic, the ways in which tangihanga (Māori funeral practices) were carried out changed. Bodies were immediately taken to the urupā (burial ground) without the customary extended ceremonies. Similarly, the impact of the burgeoning COVID-19 situation has meant uncomfortable, albeit temporary, changes to Māori funeral practices. At the very worst part of the COVID-19 experience, tangihanga were essentially prohibited, and immediate burial or cremation became the norm. In some cases, tūpāpaku (bodies) were cremated with the intention that the remains would be returned to tribal burial grounds at a later date. This article will explore the impacts of COVID-19 on tangihanga and how technology has been used in this context with particular reference to Taranaki examples.