Following their bestseller, Life as a Casketeer, Francis and Kaiora Tipene share how they incorporate traditional values of tikanga Maori into day-to-day living, what they know about whanau, mahi and manaakitanga, and how they live an enriched life with the concepts of te ao Maori.
Known for their warm hearts, grace and humour, the stars of The Casketeers series show how the traditions of tikanga shapes their lives with five sons, three businesses and a television show, whilst sustaining a life full of joy and connection.
Not long after The Casketeers aired in NZ, people started turning up at the funeral home.
“The first ones just wanted to see the place they had seen on TV. Some were surprised to find it was a real funeral home and not a TV studio set. They would bring out their cameras and take a selfie and head off again.”
After a while though, people starting bringing questions as well as cameras.
“One of the things our show does is demonstrate tikanga Maori – ways of doing things. Somehow we had ended up being seen as experts on tikanga,” said Francis and Kaiora.
“These visitors wanted information like how to do things correctly according to Maori protocol, or what would be the right phrase to use on a special occasion, or just how to spell a word and whether whanau had a macron on it. We thought that was really beautiful.”
A lot of people know a little about tikanga Maori and would like to know more, and that is why the couple made this new book.
“This is not an encyclopaedia of Māori culture. It’s not a book of Māori rituals. It’s not a phrasebook that you can use to learn some te reo Māori. There are lots of places where you can look up the definition of whānau, hapu or iwi. In this book, we are talking about what those things mean to us.
It is about how these concepts affect us from day to day and how we learnt about them growing up. It won’t tell you what you would learn if you were studying them at university, but it will give you an idea of what it is like to have these things be part of how you think. Many of the examples we use are filtered through the processes surrounding death, since that is our profession and something we deal with every day,” the pair said.
Francis and Kaiora do not call themselves experts. They say their knowledge reflects what they have learned and were exposed to when they were growing up.
“The views of the topics we talk about here are entirely our own – an explanation of how they fit in our lives. Many of them will be different for other people and other iwi. There are many wiser kaumatua and kuia than us who could give you more thorough versions of these topics.
So this book is not meant to be the last word on anything. It is meant to be a starting point for all those whose interest in te reo Māori and tikanga has been inspired by what they have seen and read about our work and our lives. Our greatest wish is that it will encourage people to learn more about and share in our culture.”