Every now and then a special someone comes into your life, and sometimes special someone also departs our life. Death is a part of the cycle of life, though it is not a comfortable time, it is something that is required for us to fulfil our journey of mortality. I was once comforted by the concept that people only leave us when we don’t know where they are going. I have a firm hope that although we can’t remember this place, we do know where people go after death. I have for a long time had involvement in Maori culture. Growing up many of my friends exposed me to this and through my wife I still have learning experiences in this culture. One of the ways of this people, which fascinates is the way they tackle this tragedy of losing a loved one to death.
I recently photographed the Maori funeral and Tangi of a very good man who I had know and respected very much over the years. I was friends with his children too. Our association was initially through our membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day saints, where our belief in life after death is strong. This man was a strong warrior for his family, culture and faith and he understood clearly hour to combine his love and dedication for all. The fruits of his and his kind wife’s labours, were his beautiful children and amazing grandchildren. I had the pleasure of being involved with all of them in some way or another and I still continue my friendship with them even to this day. I have served a proselyting mission with one, photographed a few of there weddings and have taking a family portrait for the family in the past. And of course played numerous basketball games, cards, surfing and religious and culture activities over the years.
Naturally when I was asked to photograph the proceedings of the day for the family, I was honoured to do so. I had a rich family with the family and a deep respect for this great man. Photographing a funeral and tangi is no easy task. Even with my understanding of the afterlife and the purpose of mortality, it is still an emotional and tragic day.
As I capture the events of the day, I notice many things. I hear the words that are spoken. I hear the tributes and I hear the doctrines being taught and the testimonies being shared. I also witness the family in mourning and I am touched at the way they come together to uplift and strengthen each other and remind each other of the beautiful reunion that will one day come as they remember the great goodness of those loved ones that have gone before them. This beautiful family touched me this day as they farewelled this great man. I couldn’t help but share a tear with their sorrow, but felt peace in the hope and faith. I felt strength as they comforted and supported each other and my faith was strengthened. I have pieced together a series of images for the family from the day. these special images helped me remember the greatness of this family unit, which is the legacy this great man left behind.