3 Sep 2022

The Mixtape: The Casketeers

From The Mixtape, 5:00 pm on 3 September 2022

The hymn 'How Great Thou Art' ('Whakaaria Mai') and Frank Sinatra's 'My Way' are two of the most popular songs for funerals, say Francis and Kaiora Tipene, but there are really no rules.

One of Kaiora's family friends requested The Bee Gees' hit 'Stayin' Alive' be played while his coffin was transferred into the hearse: "We all laughed and cried at the same time because that was so him!"

Charlotte Ryan visits the Onehunga branch of Tipene Funerals to chat with the stars of the reality show The Casketeers about their favourite music.

The Casketeers and Charlotte Ryan

The Casketeers Francis and Kaiora Tipene with Charlotte Ryan Photo: Charlotte Ryan

Neither Kaiora or Francis has ever been to a funeral without music.

It's a very important part of the ceremony even if the songs played aren't particular favourites of the person who's died or they didnt even really like music, Kaiora says.

"'It brings a sense of kindness, unity, but it also is a form of healing… whānau come together to memorialise that person. When they go away from that person they play that song and it brings a bit of sadness but also remembering."

Singing together at the beginning of a funeral unites the attendees and also focuses them on the purpose of the gathering, Francis says.

"It's a nice way to begin something. It's like a drill. 'Okay, attention please'."

He believes it's also beneficial for people to view the body of the person who has died as is customary for Maori.

Pakeha people often come up to Francis at funerals and tell him their parents didnt want their bodies to be viewed but they wish they could have seen them in death.

"People say 'I don't want this or that' [after they die] but their families do, they want to say goodbye.

"[Sometimes people contemplating their own funerals] are not thinking about the effect it has on those left behind to see, to touch and to say goodbye. That's what I've learnt over the years from conversations with people."

Francis, Kaoira and the staff of Tipene Funerals are currently filming the sixth and final series of The Casketeers.

He says he's looking forward to ordering Butter Chicken for lunch without worrying if a film crew is coming in that day.

Francis played:

Pere Wihongi - 'High On Ingiongo'

"When that song came out, it was groovy. It was so good in the right car with the right sound system… it's a really uplifting awesome song. For us to come away from sad times and just flick the music up - it's really neat."

"It's a song to remind us to have a break or just go and be free," adds Kaiora.



Cara Pewhairangi - 'Haere Mai'

This song was was 'in' when Francis and Kaiora were young and has a beautiful video clip, he says.

"I used to try and pretend to be that kapa haka group and [Cara] was so beautiful. Watching them perform… I remember."



Herbs - 'E Papa'

"When I'm at a function and people ask 'can you sing a song?' I'll play that and everyone joins in, you know?"


Kaiora played:

Herbs - 'Listen'

This song, which Kaiora heard a lot in childhood, reminds her of her parents and the courting days with her husband.

Francis adds that he would play it at his wife's funeral because it's very meaningful to him and their kids.

"It means something to us and it's valuable to our healing so we would play it, but not anytime soon."



Marlon Williams - 'My Boy'

Kaiora says she's played this track so many times her 16-year-old can't listen to it anymore.

"That song gets me off my seat in the morning and keeps me going in the evening."



Rob Ruha - 'That's Where I'll Be'

"That's got such a good vibe to it and I feel that it will be our whanau's summer song, as well."


Francis and Kaiora Tipene: The traditions of tikanga

Francis and Kaiora Tipene on life and the business of death

The Casketeers: putting the fun into funerals

Waiata 'spark the fire' in Pere Wihongi's soul

NZ Live - Herbs

Looking for My Boy with Marlon Williams

Marlon Williams: 'It's time to pause and reflect on the way things work'

Rob Ruha on his new single 'That's Where I'll Be'

Playing Favourites with Rob Ruha

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