Speech Title: Maori Funerals
General Subject: The cultural traditions and rituals that exist within Maori funerals, or tangi, demonstrate a great deal regarding the Maori attitude towards death and the dead.
Specific Subject: An investigation into the main aspects of a Maori funeral, including the various stages of the process, in order to establish an understanding of the beliefs and attitudes towards death of the Maori culture.
Purpose: To inform my audience about the rituals involved within a tangi, in an attempt to further their knowledge of Maori culture.
I Before the tangi, instead of the dead body being placed in a mortuary, it is given a great deal of attention. This is because Maoris believe that the spirit does not leave the body until after the burial.
II It is important that the tangi is held at the marae, which is the traditional meeting place of Maori people. This is so that the deceased can complete their spiritual journey effectively, by ending in a place where they spent much of their time when alive.
III The deceased is buried in the urupa, which is a cemetery or burial places. The urupa is near to the marae so that the family of the deceased can regularly visit and care for the burial site.
Hello, I would like to introduce you to the happenings and beliefs at a Maori funeral. These funerals are called tangi, and there are many differences between tangi and western funerals that we more commonly attend. Maori is an ancient tribe of people in New Zealand, but one that is very much alive today.
Transition/Signpost: Firstly, let’s start with what happens before the funeral. Change slide
Main Point I Before the tangi, instead of the dead body being placed in a mortuary, it is given a great deal of attention. This is because Maoris believe that the spirit does not leave the body until after the burial. Change slide
A. The tangi carries out all funeral rites that is required for the deceased before the body is laid to rest. Maori culture stipulates that the body should not be left on its own at any time between death and burial. Change slide
B. Friends and family will accompany the body to the marae, or will keep it in a family home until the tangi. When people visit the place where the body is being housed, they will go through greeting procedures as if the person is still alive. Change slide
C. The coffin will always be open until burial, so that people can touch and speak with the body. All speeches will be made directly to the body, supporting the Maori belief that the spirit remains in the body until it is buried.
Transition/Signpost: After this, the ceremony is held. Change slide
Main Point II It is important that the tangi is held at the marae, which is the traditional meeting place of Maori people. This is so that the deceased can complete their spiritual journey effectively, by ending in a place where they spent much of their time when alive. Change slide
A. The Maori believe that the deceased are, from that point forwards, always in the marae, and that the newly dead are placed into the hands of the long dead to be cared for and guided. Change slide
B. There is a huge importance placed on the living coming together in mutual comfort and support. By doing this, the living remain mindful of their position in life. Some people stay at the tangi for just a few hours, whereas others may choose to stay overnight or for several days. Change slide
C. As Marae are used for many different events, it is not unusual to have a dead body lying there while a marriage is taking place. This example demonstrates how Maroi believe that life and death are closely entwined.
Transition/Signpost: Finally the body will then be buried. Change slide
Main Point III The deceased is buried in the urupa, which is a cemetery or burial places. The urupa is near to the marae so that the family of the deceased can regularly visit and care for the burial site. Change slide
A. A Maori individual will usually ask to be buried in their family urupa, just as the family of the deceased will normally want to bring them home. Change slide
B. The majority of urupa are located near to the marae. These tend to be places of beauty and, as the Maori have strong spiritual links to the land, they consider that Mother Earth is caring for their dead. Change slide
C. If an individual returns home after being away for a long period of time, a visit to the urupa is an important occasion. Through the visit, the person can re-establish their sense of genealogy.
Transition/Signpost: So these are just a few elements of a Tangi. There is, of course, more to it, but this gives an overview of the main aspects. Change to final slide
The Maori people live among non-Maori people throughout New Zealand. However, the funeral traditions and rituals between the two peoples vary hugely. Essential to Maori culture is the belief that life and death and intricately related, and that the deceased should be treated with equal respect as the living.
Korero Maori. (2011). Tangihanga. Retrieved from
New Zealand in History. (2011). The Tangi. Retrieved from http://history-nz.org/maori6.html
Sawaya, R. (2010). What to Do and How to Behave at a Tangi. Anthropology by Suite101.
Retrieved from http://www.suite101.com/content/what-to-do-and-how-to-behave-at-
The, R. (2008). Tangi – Maori Funeral Practice. Clean Forum. Retrieved from