Caring for kaumātua before and after death

Karakia before and after death

In the Pae Herenga study, karakia was identified as the number one rongoā (natural healing). Karakia was used throughout all stages of the kaumātua's end of life care. At the time of death, and after death, karakia helped the dying kaumātua to transition the ārai (veil), and it also provided spiritual fortification and protection for their whānau. Regardless of the various sources that the karakia came from (traditional, Christian or New Age), the dying and their whānau spiritually benefitted from their use.

Kaumātua Arena identified that karakia will always take place once a person has passed over, but only once the whānau has had a little bit of time to process the initial grief:

First and foremost is that karakia, you know... but we give it time for [whānau to tangi]. We let them grieve, you know. We let them cry and it’s no good having a karakia when they’re hurting right there and then. So, you let them cry…

Karakia is an important aspect of care according to whānau. Karakia was the main tikanga Matilda (health care assistant) saw whānau members providing at the time a kaumātua was dying. Many whānau engage with their karakia and faith practices; often these take place morning and night before the tūpāpaku is interred (disposed). Then after death, Matilda said the undertaker is called and arrangements are made with the whānau:

Yeah… in the community, the undertakers are involved or [are] called. Yeah and what do the family want to do? Their [whānau] desires I, I suppose it would be like having a church service each day, each evening is what they would want, and that’s their comfort… karakia. Yeah. And having a service at the bed and singing and prayer going on in the room next door.

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