My husband’s mother,
Here she is standing at the door to ‘The Whareama.’ (see post of Feb 4th )
In the last few years of her life she found it too difficult to get to her regular church on a Sunday morning but because she loved to hear and sing hymns she would walk down the street and around the corner to a small urban Maori Marae* where they held a church service.
One day a Maori elder found her outside listening to the music and invited her in.
At her death the Maori women elders requested to care for her body until the day of the funeral. According to Maori custom the soul does not depart the body until after the funeral.
At the Marae they laid the open casket on the meeting house floor and placed a feather cloak over her tiny body to ‘keep her warm.’ They sang to her, shared stories about her life and slept around her to keep her company.
When the family expressed their gratitude to the elders of the marae for the honour of a tangihanga they replied, “We have lost our Mother.”
* A Maori marae is a sacred place that serves both religious and social purposes. It is a vital part of everyday life for the Maori where the culture can be celebrated, customs explored and ceremonies performed. The ceremony for the dead is called a tangihanga.
The poem 'String' is by Spike Milligan.