Regional | Community

Addressing death openly fosters awareness, acceptance, and preparation

Te Atawhai Aroha, Rotorua Library, and Rotorua Trust are hosting crucial conversations with the Rotorua community emphasising the urgency of preparing for life beyond death.

Lynn Walmsly, co-chair of Te Atawhai Aroha, says leading conversations on preparing for life after death ensures whānau are prepared financially, mentally and physically.

“This conversation is part of a series of kōrero in the planning of preparation for dying, death and burials but tonight's discussion is to teach whānau and get them to understand how to create a will, a power of attorney and what will happen with assets, such as whenua Māori”.

She says comments by the community show how these wānanga are having an influence on many whānau.

“Now people are requesting more discussions, particularly those that focus on finances, powers of attorney, and wills, and it's because some whānau are very interested and need a more in-depth wānanga”.

Pania Roa is the founder of Urutapu Funeral Services. She notes that weaving a casket as a meaningful preparation with whānau (family) is another way to help prepare people for the confronting moment of their death.

She says the challenging aspect of creating a space for conversations about death is due to the common belief that "if you speak about death, then you will die."

Roa says this misconception makes it difficult for people to engage in open discussions about the topic.

“A person won't die from speaking about death. The main thing is to prepare and understand all of the fundamentals of a tangihanga, including money.

“How are we going to cover the costs if whānau don’t understand the importance of saving for a funeral, so we need to prepare not only yourself but also your whānau for the costs and for your funeral in general."

Facing mortality is crucial for a responsible and compassionate approach to end-of-life, she says. A will and power of attorney ensures the person's wishes are honoured and protects their loved ones' interests.

"Preparing your funeral at any time not only ensures that your wishes will be upheld by your whānau but it will also help you to understand the most important fact of life, which is that one day, yours will come to an end," Walmsley says.

“Prepare for your death because one thing is certain - we are all going to die.

“If we prepare our tangihanga, it can be a time of celebration, because when we get together at tangihanga it is amazing but the key point of these wānanga is to remind whānau that the preparation is not just for now, it is to prepare for 100 years into the future."