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Funeral of Reihana Paki – A family man of God

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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._12A0003 _12A0061 _12A0080 _12A0094 _12A0111 _12A0114 _12A0119 _12A0122 _12A0212 _12A0227 _12A0273 _12A0286 _12A0299 _12A0314 _12A0323 _12A0329 _12A0357 _12A0362 _12A0374 _12A0383 _12A0386 _12A0388 _12A0399 _12A0427 _12A0432 _12A9768 _12A9784 _12A9792 _12A9876 _12A9878 _12A9896 _12A9899 _12A9944 _12A9956 _12A9977 _12A9999