Covid 19 coronavirus: Heartbreak as hearse arrives outside MIQ hotel allow daughter to say goodbye to late mum

A funeral home has captured the heartbreaking moment a family mourning the loss of their mother brought the casket to an MIQ facility so her distraught daughter could say goodbye.

The emotional farewell was arranged by Tipene Funerals, which features in the TV show The Casketeers, which shared a video of emotional scenes on Wednesday.

In the video, captioned “the boys took nena to see mum in quarantine”, the hearse can be seen backing up to the MIQ facility fence to allow the late woman’s daughter to see her mother’s coffin and say a few words.

The daughter can be see grieving behind the quarantine fence as family console her from a distance.

The moment brought family, friends and the funeral director to tears.

“Yesterday we transferred the [family member] home and it was requested that we stop into one of the quarantine facilities so that her daughter can pay her respects to her mother,” Tipene Funerals’ Francis Tipene said.

“Not often do you see funeral directors cry, but this broke us too.

“These are the Covid times. It has been challenging for many. Quarantine for 14 days is a must when arriving into the country for the purpose of safety and to prevent any spread of Covid. We feel the aroha for all that experience loss during this trying time.

“A funeral service will be held on Friday 26th March and the daughter will celebrate her mother’s life via livestream with many who also can’t be there.”

The video shone a light on the struggles some people in managed isolation are going through when returning home for a family bereavement.

Viewers expressed their love for the family with many saying those who have lost someone during their MIQ stay should be allowed out to attend funerals.

“This breaks my heart … when someone passes, family should be allowed to the funerals. RIP. Condolences and sincerity to your daughter. This is not right,” one said.

Another added: “Tipene Funerals are the best. I lost my brother last year in May during Covid and did they look after us. It’s so hard.”

In March last year, the way funerals were held had to change due to Covid-19 rules and regulations.

At the time, Tipene Funerals had to ask mourners not to engage in close physical contact with one another.

“What we have come up with is no kissing one another, no hugging. We are asking people not to hongi as you enter into the whare, and no handshaking. It is difficult for us to do this,” they wrote at the time.

“We are very strong. We are practitioners. It’s not we are being offensive, please don’t take it that way, but it’s for the safety of you and your whanau, and us kaimahi [employees] at Tipene Funerals.”

Funerals were reduced to smaller gatherings depending on the alert levels with some family members missing out on saying goodbye.

Wednesday’s video isn’t the first time a Tipene Funerals employee has broken down in tears.

Last March, a worker was in tears after having to tell the daughter of an elderly man in their care that she could not dress him because of Covid-19 restrictions at the time.

Choking up, she explains what she told the man’s daughter she would do for her.

“I’ve got the clothes. I promised her that I will make sure that I place this [tapa cloth] – which is what we wear – in the casket.

“Or for him to wear. I promised that I would take photos of it and send it to them just to put their minds at ease . . . so they know that we put everything that they wanted on their father.

“And give him a send-off – a good send-off.”

Speaking to the Herald, the funeral director said it was a tough time to be working in the industry and particularly when many of their customers were Pasifika and Māori families who had traditions and cultural protocols for when a person died.

“That was one of the hardest things that I’ve had to do. It’s one thing to tell them over the phone [of the new rules] but then having to see them in person. . .

“When I spoke to the daughter – that she couldn’t see her dad, she couldn’t be there to dress him and to say her goodbyes – I just managed to hold myself together.”

Meanwhile, the Government is doubling the time required to stay in New Zealand before returnees can avoid paying MIQ fees.

And it is making it more expensive for some non-Kiwi partners, children or legal guardians to come to New Zealand.

Currently, any New Zealand citizen or permanent resident returning from overseas who has not been in New Zealand since August 11 last year – and who stays here for 90 days – is not liable to pay charges for the $3100 fee for 14 days in MIQ.

From June 1, returnees will need to stay here for at least 180 days.

“This change will support the Government’s aim of making the MIQ system more financially sustainable,” the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, which runs MIQ, said in a statement.

“It is estimated that extending the minimum period to 180 days will affect about 3 per cent of returning New Zealanders.”

The fees will also go up for temporary entry class visa holders who are partners, spouses, legal guardians or children under 18 of returning Kiwis or migrant health workers – if they are travelling separately.

If travelling together, they will pay the lower MIQ additional person rates of $950 for an additional adult in a room, and $475 for a child aged 3-17.

If travelling separately, the temporary entry class visa holder will be charged the higher fees of $5520 for the first or only person in a room, $2990 for an additional adult, and $1610 for an additional child.

This fees increase took effect from 12.01am today.

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