Te nehu

Burial

Pō whakamutunga - The last night before the nehu (burial)

Whānau manaaki may observe the customary practice of te pō whakamutunga (remembering and celebrating the life of the kaumātua); traditionally, this ritual is held on the night before the nehu (burial). This custom provides an opportunity for whānau pani to reflect on the life of the kaumātua, to share stories, to laugh and to cry and to celebrate a life lived to the full.

Te nehu - The burial

After the tangihanga service (held either at the marae or in a church) whānau pani will make their way to the urupā. A service is conducted to farewell the deceased, and to place their tūpāpaku to rest in Papatūānuku. It is usual to have bottles of water waiting outside the gate. This is used to whakanoa (cleanse) whānau pani of the tapu (restrictions) associated with such an occasion. It is common to splash water on the hands and over the head or face on leaving the urupā.

Hākari - Feast

After the nehu (burial), the whānau manaaki remove the spiritual restrictions associated with the occasion through karakia and a hākari (feast) is enjoyed before people return to their ordinary lives.

Takahi te whare – Tramping the house of tapu

The whare or place where the kaumātua resided before death, and particularly the place where they died, is considered tapu (restricted). Following the nehu (burial) it is customary for whānau pani to return to the home of the kaumātua and takahi te whare (tramp the house) and their possessions to remove the tapu (restrictions). A tohunga, minister or kaumātua will recite karakia for this occasion undertakes the ritual; they may sprinkle water as they walk through different rooms of the whare. The ritual should be carried out in a hospital room and a residential care bedroom after the body has been removed. Vehicles that the body has been transported in are spiritually cleared in this way. When homes, possessions and vehicles are blessed appropriately, the wairua (spirit) of the deceased will be settled and their home and possessions become noa (free from restrictions) and are ready for people to use again.

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