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Tangihanga Guidelines - updated

Many of you have asked us what the guidelines are for Tangihanga during Alert Level 4. We have compiled the latest advice from the Ministry of Health and also made available some downloads of information for your use.

When someone dies – what we need to do first and foremost​

  • Immediately contact your local Police and inform them of the death. You may wish to speak with the Police Iwi Liaison Officer, which your local Police should be able to facilitate easily. CLICK HERE FOR A Police IWI liaison officer here

  • Appoint a whānau member to liaise with Police and Health Providers. This may be the person who contacted local Police in the first instance.

  • Māori communities, iwi, hapū and whānau are being encouraged to establish local ‘kaiwhakarite’ or people who can assist whānau during this time as well. You may wish to contact your ‘kaiwhakarite’ to seek advice. Get in touch with your iwi and hapū organisations as well as marae to see if a ‘kaiwhakarite’ has already been established.

  • Contact the deceased’s Health Provider (GP, Hauora, PHO).

  • If your loved one has died from a known health issue, this will be critical information for the Police – your loved one’s Health Provider must liaise directly with the Police to pass on this information.

  • If your loved one has died from COVID-19 then it will be critical for the Police and/or Health Provider to support you with information on what to do next.

  • If your loved one has died from an unknown cause, a post-mortem will need to be undertaken. The Police will facilitate this process and will liaise directly with your appointed whānau member.

  • Get in touch with a local funeral director to organise arrangements for burial or cremation.

  • If you are unsure about funeral directors, work with your local Police Iwi Liaison Officer, ‘kaiwhakarite’, Tribal Authority, Health Provider and/or local Civil Defence Emergency Management Centre to identify someone suitable.

What happens at Alert Level 4

To stop the spread of COVID-19, gathering together for public funerals and tangihanga is not permitted while New Zealand is at Alert Level 4.

This applies to all deceased persons, regardless of when and where they died, or the cause of death.

It includes public gatherings at burials, cremations, memorial services, funeral wakes, processions or receptions and social gatherings, both indoors and outdoors.


We must protect people’s health and ensure our health system can look after New Zealanders who become sick.

Bereaved families and whānau from all cultures and backgrounds will find this time challenging. This makes it even more important to show each other kindness and caring, manaakitanga and aroha.

Only registered funeral directors may handle deceased persons

A registered funeral director must be engaged to carry out the functions of burial or cremation and transporting a deceased person in New Zealand. Families or communities must not carry out burials, cremations or transportation of deceased persons without engaging a registered funeral director.

Funeral services

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. However, this is not always possible. You may want to offer your families and whānau other options, including:

  • holding the funeral or tangihanga after the Alert Level 4 restrictions ease. Bear in mind that we don’t know when that might be and there might be practical or cultural reasons why this is not an option

  • live streaming or providing photos of the service and/or burial

  • cremating the deceased and burying the ashes at a later date

  • holding a memorial service later, when restrictions on gatherings are lifted and it is safe to do so

Viewing of bodies

There will not be an opportunity for family and whanau of the deceased to go to the funeral home to view the body.

The deceased may not be transported from the funeral home for viewing purposes at any time.

Funeral directors may 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.

Funeral directors must keep a register of all persons entering the funeral home for the purposes of any viewing or religious/cultural rituals which take place. This register must include:

  • exact day and time the viewing took place

  • full names of all viewing

  • current physical address of the bubble viewing

  • email addresses

  • mobile phone numbers.

If families break these rules the funeral director should contact the New Zealand Police for support.

Viewing for the purpose of coronial identification is still permitted during Alert Level 4.Family and whānau of the deceased are unable to go to the cemetery or crematorium for the burial during Level 4.

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