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Urupa will open but marae to close
Photo: Maori Maps.

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A Kāwhia kaumatua says suspending traditional ways of mourning the dead may be one of the hardest things about the coronavirus lockdown.

Seven coastal marae around Kāwhia harbour have agreed to close their gates to tribal gatherings from midnight on Wednesday for the next four weeks as country moves to a level four Covid-19 alert.

Nick Tuwhāngai, kaumātua for Mōkai Kainga Marae says his heart goes out to all whānau who may face a bereavement without being able to shed tears on their own marae, but the lockdown will save lives.

If a death does occur, the marae will open their urupā immediately for burials, with an appropriate karakia at the graveside.

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