An updated set of guidelines for funeral and tangihanga has been released by the Ministry of Health, now allowing a restricted number of family members within the same bubble to visit in the funeral home.

The original guidelines released by the Ministry meant families who had lost loved ones had just three options: immediate burial, immediate cremation or refrigeration, and only one member of the family could visit the funeral home to make arrangements.

The guidelines were updated after consultation with the funeral industry and iwi groups a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health said.

The new set of guidelines stipulate that family members within the same bubble as the deceased can now be involved in a funeral service at a funeral home, at the discretion of their funeral director.

During Alert Level 4, public funeral services are not permitted. Families or communities must not carry out funerals.

Funeral directors are encouraged to carry out burials and cremations as quickly as possible.

Many funeral directors are offering a number of alternative options including holding the funeral or tangihanga after the Alert Level 4 restrictions ease, live streaming or providing photos of the service and or burial, or cremating the deceased and burying the ashes at a later date or holding a memorial service later, when restrictions on gatherings are lifted and it is safe to do so.

Funeral directors may also allow religious rituals for the care of the body to occur. However, these must be carried out in the presence of an embalmer who will give direction to anyone present on the correct PPE
requirements. Activities such as kissing, washing or touching the body must not occur before, during or after the viewing.

Many local Marae are closed to Tangihanga, however, the chairman of Te Runanga o Ngati Awa, Joe Harawira said in a video that the rules are in place for the safety of everyone.

“The [Runanga] delegates are to identify a contact should a tangi happen within your hapu and those delegates will be working with Police and the undertakers”.

“Kia kaha tatou, we will get through this”. Mr Harawira concluded.

A full list of the guidelines is available here.

News Whakatane will host a LIVE Q&A with Whakatane Funeral Director, Bradley Shaw, of Gateway Funeral Services at 7.30 pm tomorrow night on the News Whakatane Facebook page.