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Maori children : Conceptions of Death and Tangihanga

Research pertaining to Maori children‟s experiences and perceptions of death and tangihanga is sparse. Much of what is available, relating to children and their experiences with death, particularly death of a loved one, is generalised and stems from Western paradigms of knowledge. In contrast, this study aimed to investigate Maori children‟s experience relating to death and tangi through the eyes of Maori parents. Five areas were explored with Maori parents: (1) childhood experiences of Maori parents relating to death and tangi, (2) parental conceptualisation pertaining to ideas of an afterlife (3) how and when Maori parents talk with children about topics relating to death, tangi and an afterlife (4) how Maori children understand and conceptualise these events, and (5) how these practices will continue on in the future. Findings of this study suggest that Maori children: (a) received abundant support from kinship networks to help them cope with their grief, (b) they were included and involved in all aspects relating to death and tangi, (c) they were encouraged to express emotions openly and without restraint, (d) they understood and comprehended death through personal experience and exposure to tangi, (e) the business of grieving came secondary to the fact that tangi was more like a holiday with family, (f) Maori parents informed and talked to their children about death and tangi, and (g) they often use both Christian ideologies and cultural beliefs to explained death and afterlife to their children. From this study we learn that death was not hidden from children, that parents talked with their children in very open and age relevant ways, and considered their children‟s participation in tangi as an important way to grieve and ensure continuity with kinship networks and support. This study suggests that the challenge now is to ensure that these practices continue to persist between parents and their children, and continue on through generations.
Type of thesis
Jacob, J. E. (2011). Maori children : Conceptions of Death and Tangihanga (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/5702
University of Waikato
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