Saturday, July 28, 2012

Maori Funeral

 On July 13, 2012 Mary Ann Morrell a 87 year old Maori woman passed away in the community of Wainuiomata.  I was asked to play the piano at the funeral service.  The Maori people are steeped in tradition and are a very close knit group of people.  Once a Maori person passes away they are never allowed to be alone so there is always family or friends with them until the burial.  Usually the casket is placed in a Marae (which is this building shown above) and the family stays with the body for around three days.  They bring in mattress and eat and sleep there until the funeral. They also do a lot of singing during this period of time.
They brought the body to the church in the back of a station wagon.  During the service they sang How Great Thou Art in English and then in Maori.  The words in Maori are:
Whakaaria Mai
Whakaaria mai tou ripeka ki a au
Tiaho mai ra roto it e po
Ki kona autitiro atu ai
Ora mate hei au koe noho ai
After the funeral we traveled to the Whenua Tapu cemetery which was about a 45 minute drive.  There are three people who walk backwards and chant while the casket is brought to the burial site.  Then during the service they all throw flower petals into the ground and then a trowel full of dirt and also do a lot of singing.

Following the burial they returned to Wainuiomata and had a feast which included meat which is put in the ground and cooked all day.  Maori people are well known for the amount of food they provide for meals.  Sometimes when they feed the missionaries they are offended if you don't eat everything that is provided.  They are a very giving people.

July 18, 2012

No comments:

Post a Comment