Story: Tangihanga – death customs

Ōhākī of Henare Mete Te Amohau

This ōhākī by Henare Mete Amohau of Te Arawa was published in Te Toa Takitini in 1927. An ōhākī was usually a spoken farewell to the people by a rangatira close to death. This is a translation:

To the iwi, greetings to you all, Te Papa-i-Ouru, greetings to you. I am now at a point where it is appropriate to greet the iwi, the land, the waka, because I have seen that night is approaching, my body is overcome with darkness, and my spirit is overcome by the dark. Farewell to my iwi, farewell to my waka, this comes from the Toi, the Mahuri, of the Heketanga-a-rangi to my parents. After, remain strong and steadfast, insert the feather of the kōtuku of our father, it is the the kōtuku of many resting places, lest it be blown away in the winds of Tūmatauenga. Turn to face the rising of the sun, do not turn your back on it, lest you lose sight of the law. Arise, follow in the footsteps of God, lest you be cast like a rock onto the paths of the insane. Light up the lamp of faith, of hope, of love for God. If Te Arawa splits, lash the bulwarks of this waka just as our father, Temuera, did when he paddled through the waves of evil which have passed. Whether it is broken people or broken promises of this nation they can be rectified by taking on the attributes of the Amokura. The akatea was tied to the head of the great Rangitihi, and today that akatea represents the law. Follow the commands of the Government. Care for our children. Lord, protect the iwi and my children.

Using this item

Niupepa: Maori newspapers
Reference: Te Toa Takitini, 1 April, 1927

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How to cite this page:

Rawinia Higgins, 'Tangihanga – death customs - Traditional preparations for tangihanga', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 7 December 2021)

Story by Rawinia Higgins, published 5 May 2011