Māori Funeral Rituals can be difficult to understand when there is so much to learn especially during a time of grieving. We understand it can be overwhelming when these rituals seem foreign to you and we don’t expect you to learn all of them.

Luckily, we have got you covered with all the Māori Funeral Rituals you NEED to know and understand.

What Are Common Māori Funeral Rituals? And What Part Do I Play?

Māori funerals take place over a period of 3 days or more to mourn the passing of a loved one. This is commonly known as a ‘Tangi’. Death is an important part of Māori culture making the rituals performed at Māori funerals a very important part of Māori identity.

“So what are the Māori Funeral Rituals that I need to be aware of?” we hear you ask.

  • You will be welcomed on to the marae where the funeral is being held. This is a way to welcome you, bring you into their ‘home’ and explain that they’ll take care of you while you’re there.
  • The body will be displayed with the casket open. This is an important part of the funeral, for their spirit is believed to still be among you. The casket will be near the back wall of the wharenui where you will go to say your farewells.
  • The bereaved family are not to do anything during the Tangi. This is a very important Māori Funeral Ritual as they are there to mourn the death of their beloved. It is seen as a very respectable thing to show all emotion you are feeling so there will be a lot of tears.
  • Lastly, the corpse will never be left by itself. No matter what, someone from the family will always be sitting/sleeping beside the casket. This includes eating times and going to the bathroom.

In terms of what you do when visiting, all you need to do is be yourself and be comfortable. It is a time of mourning and if you’re a guest all you have to do is interact, talk with the family and share stories of the deceased. Be respectful, lend a helping hand and if you’re ever lost just ask for help.

If you're looking for a funeral celebrant you can find one in our comprehensive list of New Zealand funeral celebrants here in My Celebrant Guide

We invite you to view our other articles on the topic of funerals for further advice.