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Ed Sheeran

Walker breaks cremation taboo

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The decision by the late Dr Ranginiui Walker and his whanau to opt for cremation could have a big impact on other Maori whanau.

That’s according to Maori funeral director Francis Tipene, who says over the past five years the traditional Maori opposition to cremation has started to go away.

He says it’s now standard practice in his firm to pick up the paperwork for cremation, just in case whanau want to take that option.

It’s still a sensitive issue, but Dr Walker’s high-profile tangihanga is having an impact.

"It helped ease that whakaaro, not only for us but also the other Maori that are from the outside looking in and those that turned their heads at families that wanted cremation. When that happened with Dr Ranginui Walker, it was like wow, a man of that stature and rangatiratanga did that, so for us it was eye opening and it helped us really to know it is out there and exposed to our people," he says.

Francis Tipene says about 20 percent of tangihanga now involve cremation, with a shortage of city burial plots and the high price of plots a factor.


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