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Tangi Insurance Trust Brings Relief to Struggling Families

August 26 2011

Tangi Insurance Trust Brings Relief to Struggling Families

A Maori Trust established to offer Tangi insurance and improve health outcomes for older Maori and Pasifika people is starting to bring significant relief to struggling families.

Te Rau Aroha Trust was set up two and a half years ago to offer Tangi Insurance to Maori and Pasifika men and women who had previously been overlooked by the insurance industry.

The Trust has received thousands of applications and a significant number of people have met the criteria for the insurance.

Trust chairman, Tapihana Shelford says the Tangi is the most important event in the Maori world and many families struggle terribly to afford to pay for them.

“ We frequently come across horror stories where people have had to hand over their cars or papers to their homes in order to pay for Tangi. Even in the past few months we heard of a man convicted for selling drugs to pay for his mother’s funeral.”

Mr. Shelford says Te Rau Aroha Tangihanga insurance is unique because the premiums are free and paid for by the Trust

He says the Trust is a charitable organisation and receives income from donations, investments and a proportion of the claims that are paid out when someone passes away.

“The whanau nominated by the deceased receive a payment of up to $15,000. The remaining balance of the insurance policy, of up to $285,000, is gifted to the Trust to assist in paying for others insurance premiums and other charitable works.

“ The key thing about our kaupapa is we work equally with those that are turned down for the insurance as well as those that meet the criteria.”

Tapihana Shelford says it can be difficult for older Maori and Pasifika men and women to meet the health criteria to receive the Tangi insurance.

“ We support those who have been deferred to complete health checks and set up medication to get them on track to be eligible.”

Mr. Shelford says Te Rau Aroha is also in the process of establishing mobile clinics for kaumatua and kuia.

“ We have conducted some in depth research that has shown what many of us have suspected for a long time, that our older people struggle to access health services and have a very poor experience even when they get there.”

Tapihana Shelford says the kaupapa for Te Rau Aroha is to enable older Maori and Pasifika men and women to live and die with dignity.

“ To that end we are not exclusive. Even if someone applies and doesn’t meet the criteria, in a number of cases we are still able to offer a small payment to assist with Tangi,” he say.

Mr. Shelford says the Trust is currently finalising a new insurance policy to cover those who are declined for the $15,000 Tangihanga cover.

He says many New Zealanders are probably unaware of the immense struggle it is for many Maori and Pasifika families to pay for Tangi and how devastating it is for them if they cannot afford to adequately farewell their loved ones.

“ People do not realise that you can often need to pay $5000 up front before you can even take the body of a loved one home or to the marae. That is a big expense that is simply too much for some families, and that is when they turn to desperate measures such as high interest loans from loansharks, selling family assets, and as we saw recently, even crime to find the money,” says Mr Shelford.

“ If we are to improve the social and economic wellbeing of Maori and Pasifika people, it is critical we address this most important part of our cultures, to ensure mana at the time of a person’s death through providing for guests and visitors.”

Tapihana Shelford says it is the concept of Manaakitanga that underpins the success of Te Rau Aroha.

“ To give is everything in our culture; at times of Tangi, and in terms of people contributing to the trust for others, it is all part of the intrinsic way we think and act as a community.”


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