Justifying Their Paycheck

20 Feb

Before attending my first tangi with Charlie I asked his mother what might be expected of me.  She informed me of the handwashing and also told me that you should never take money or tobacco to the graveside.  Once at the cemetery and in the company of other family and friends  I remember asking the origin of the ritual/requirement/custom (whatever you would call it).   The handwashing was easily answered by many (rightly or wrongly) however the origin of no money or tobacco was never answered.  In jest it was suggested it was so the not so honest whanau knew where to go for a bit of pocket money and a smoke.  Whatever the reason, it has been reaffirmed to me many times over the years and from a variety of sources.  I raise this because the Smokefree Murihiku Coalition have asked Council to make Cemeteries and Urupa smokefree.

I question why they made no mention of this custom or tradition.  They are quick to point out a lot of other information including:

We know that increasing smokefree environments will contribute towards fewer young people beginning to smoke − the less people they see smoking, the less ‘normal’ it will seem.

The whole thing reads like someone sitting around creating ways to justify their paycheck.   If Maoridom does not allow it due to custom why should some little pencil pusher assume to force it upon them?  I thought Urupa was all about allowing the Maori culture to control the environment and honour the dead how they see fit?

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