Heartbreaking video shows reality of lockdown funerals

NZ Herald

A funeral director has published a video exposing the heartbreaking reality of lockdown funerals.

It shows a grieving daughter calling messages of sorrow as the hearse carrying her mother drives into a cemetery without her.

New Zealanders in Level 3 lockdown are facing tight restrictions, with all funerals and tangihanga limited to 10 people. Distressingly, those under level 4 are forced to stay away entirely.

Tipene Funerals’ video shows just what these restrictions mean.

It shows a hearse driving into Auckland’s Manukau Memorial Gardens. The car following it is forced to stop as the cemetery’s gates begin to close.

A woman gets out and calls after the hearse: “I’m sorry mama.”

Security guards, heads hung low in respect, close the gates as the grieving daughter’s cries follow her mother.

“We love you mama, ofa atu mama, I’m sorry I can’t be there with you mama.”

The daughter and other family break down, the sounds of their grief fading as the hearse drives away.

“This is what we experience every day during lockdown,” Tipene Funerals wrote online.

“As the gates close, we feel their pōuri [sadness] and mamae [pain] and we tangi [cry] for them as we continue to bury their loved one on their behalf.

“We continue to face these challenging moments,” Tipene Funerals continued, adding their gratitude to the family who entrusted their last farewells to them for the video.

Commentators on the video universally acknowledged the pain the restrictions are causing to grieving people.

“This is so cruel and wrong,” one says.

“Yet it’s ok to watch you parliamentarians on tv walking close together.”

One recent change to the rules has been made recently, with funeral directors saying after petitioning the government they are “delighted” that viewings to farewell a loved one under alert level 4 are now allowed.

So long as they are in the same “bubble”, family members are allowed to attend viewings at a registered funeral home during alert level 4.

The body is still not permitted to leave the funeral home for viewing purposes at any time.

David Moger, chief executive of the Funeral Directors Association while the new government requirements are identical to the ones the association suggested, one may be difficult.

“There is a requirement that the funeral director supervising the viewing must be fully vaccinated. This is problematic because when we asked for early access to the vaccination programme for funeral directors as an essential service this year, we were denied.”

He says the ministry cited limited community transmission as the reason and told the association funeral directors are not deemed to be an essential health service.

“This means that the number of funeral directors available that are now fully vaccinated is limited,” Moger says.

“We are trying to assess what impact that delay will have had on today’s announcement.”


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