Peters confuses funeral and venue gathering rules, suggests the death of the hongi

When asked about the limit of 10 people able to gather for funerals or tangis, Winston Peters confirmed the need for that rule – those sorts of gatherings usually involve a lot of close contact.

But he then created some confusion  among journalists when asked if groups of ten people could then go to a wake at a venue that provided foot (from Thursday) or a bar (from next Thursday). He said that that was within the rules. It seems to be different to what Jacinda Ardern said yesterday.

Peters seemed to differentiate between a hundred people going to a hall after a funeral and a similar number gathering on a marae. He also question whether a hongi “will ever come back again”.

Question: What’s your message to people who are pointing out inconsistencies with the Level 2 rules, saying a hundred people if they’re in groups of ten can go to a restaurant for example, or a cinema, but they can’t attend a tangi or a funeral?

Peters:  …the number one desire of people who attend a tangi or funeral is to emotionally connect by embracing and other ways of making a connection…for once I heard from an industry that understood why the health department and the government is concerned. And we hope to get out of that situation as fast as we possibly can.

But right here right now the funeral circumstance is so difficult.

Now it’s possible to go to a function after the funeral to a hall and sit down with a hundred people, spaced properly if you follow the three ‘s’ rule, a but having it right on site at the side of the burial place with more than ten people just seemed to all the advisers to be so difficult.

Question: So you’re saying that people can go to a hall after a small kind of funeral or tangi of ten people, they could go to a hall with a hundred people if they were properly distanced…

Peters: Properly distanced, ten at a table, served by one person in each case at each table, that’s possible.

Question: My understanding from the Prime Minister yesterday was that all groups had to be under ten but are you saying that you could have a group…

Peters: No, ten or less.

Question: So you’re saying you could go to a hall with a hundred people and hold a kind of off-site funeral or wake?

Peters: No, you can have the aftermath, the Irish style so to speak, or the Scottish style, and be within the law.

Question: So why is it any different from having a hundred people at a marae for example.

Peters: Because the Marae circumstance is much more closed in. The distance rule would be impossible to keep. I mean one of the things you have to have regard for is whether the hongi in these circumstances is ever going to come back again, because it’s just the nature of things, and there’s a famous old saying that says “Cultures that don’t adapt die”, and we’ve got to be so so careful.

Peters seems to be saying that an Irish or Scottish style after-funeral gathering is fine, but a a Maori style gathering is forbidden.

Question: ..saying it would be up to Iwi whether hongi was reintroduced, are you saying it shouldn’t be?

Peters: I’m just putting out there into the Maori world, to say that cultures that don’t adapt die. Our lives and our old people’s lives in particular are on the line here

The lessons from the Spanish flu were catastrophic. The percentage of Maori dying was eight times that of Europeans, and we were down to fifty thousand people at the end of it.  Now there’s a past lesson.

The present one now, and in terms of colds, flus, influenza and Covid-19, it surely makes sense for us to consider it.

Question: I’m somewhat confused about this gathering of a hundred people, because the Prime Minister was really clear yesterday it had to be a cap of ten people.

Peters: Well it’s very unlikely that any one family will go to a funeral with more than ten people…

Question: …there’s people out there who are upset because they’ve waited until level 2 to hold a tangi or funeral who are waiting to make that decision, and they thought from what the Prime Minister was saying yesterday was that they couldn’t have a gathering of the hundred people but you’re now saying that they can.

Peters: Not at the funeral itself, but at the wake they could organise it, whether they go to a restaurant or organise it under the same guidelines that are capable of being attested to and examined. It’s for their own safety.

And that’s a fact. When families go to a funeral they don’t always go en masse the right amount of (relatives?) to show the right amount of respect.

Jacinda Ardern when she announced moving to Level 2:

Gatherings at home, need to be capped at 10. Church and religious events, weddings, funerals, stag dos – all must be limited to 10 for now.

And if you’re wanting to head to a restaurant, or a bar, they won’t be able to take group bookings larger than 10. This, alongside social distancing, is our insurance policy.

And why 10? Simple. If something goes wrong with a group of 10, that’s much easier to contain, much easier to contact trace, and much less likely that if something goes wrong that the whole country will have to experience more restrictions.

I expect we will here more of this.

Ardern is just answering questions about the funeral limitation now at the daily update.  She starts by saying how hard it is on people who want to have funerals.

She has been asked about 100 people wakes and Cabinet having different messages and she avoids answering the question directly and goes into a general spiel.

They considered a different way of dealing with funerals and tangis but “it was just very difficult to find a way”.

Ardern keeps reiterating the ten person group limit.

Source for Peters (around 15-19 minutes).

Maori Party tangi

The Māori Party isn’t dead yet – they may or may not survive – but ‘funeral’ is a shortened version of tangihanga anyway.

Māori dictionary definition of tangi:

verb: to cry, mourn, weep, weep over

noun: sound, intonation, mourning, grief, sorrow, weeping, lament, salute, wave

There has been weeping and grieving over the electorate loss of Te Ururoa Flavell, the failure of Howie Tamati in his electorate, and therefore the exit from Parliament of both Flavell and Marama Fox.

I also lament what could be the end of the Māori Party. It will be difficult for them to come back from this, unless perhaps Labour get into Government this term and do another foreshore and seabed type betrayal of their strengthened Māori support.

Flavell was not flashy , but he was a hard working MP and Minister, dedicated to the Māori cause. He is a big loss.

Fox was a first term MP but she made a big impression. She had some controversial ideas, but she always argued her case with gusto and with passion. She had to be one of the better performing first termers. Sad also to see her go.

Māori voters have proven to be good tactical voters at times in the past, but I think they stuffed up this election, or may have, depending on the outcome of governing arrangements.

If Labour get to form the next government their increased number of Māori MPs may mean better Māori representation – or not. Labour has a history of not delivering.

It seems that a number of Māori voters were besotted with Jacinda Ardern, but Ardern has not shown a lot of connection with and empathy for Māori. She barely advocated on Māori issues in the election debates, she didn’t give them much attention in her campaigning. There was no sign of Māori at her election night speech.

Since then Ardern has said she will not agree to a referendum on the Māori seats in negotiations with NZ First. That’s a positive for Māori if she sticks to it, but what if that makes a coalition with NZ First impossible?

What if for any reason Labour doesn’t get to form the next Government?

Without the Māori Party there will be reduced Māori representation where it matters. It’s hard to even think of which National MP might be Minister of Māori Affairs, a role filled by Māori Party MPs over the last three terms.

NZ First might even negotiate a Māori seat referendum with National, the latter actually having the abolition of the Māori seats in their policy but left alone while they included the Māori Party in government.

If there is a general referendum on the Māori seats they may well end up being scrapped.

The Māori Party may not quite be ready for tangihanga, but Māori voters may end up doing some wailing and lamenting as a result of them dumping the party whose sole purpose was to promote Māori interests.

The tangi may have only just begun.