Funeral directors and whānau who have relentlessly opposed the 10-person limit on funerals and tangi are delighted with the news up to 50 people can now attend services.
There are mixed views among iwi leaders about whether it is the right move, however - and one Eastern Bay of Plenty iwi plans to hold tangi for up to 100 people at a time regardless of the rules.
Michelle Pukepuke from Haven Falls Poutama Tangihanga Funeral Homes in Auckland said 11 whānau had put tūpāpaku of loved ones in storage during lockdown and while waiting for the 10-person limit to be increased.
Some whānau have had their tūpāpaku stored for up to five weeks.
Pukepuke said she had seen their grief and frustration and was elated they would no longer have wait.
"It's just so heartwarming that it's happened because this is about us coming together and I think that this is a good example of that," she said.
"It's an awesome outcome for everyone and from our perspective it's given the ownership of the tangihanga process back to the whānau."
She said although it was not the 100-person limit she was hoping for, immediate whānau would be happy they would not have to send their loved ones off alone.
"As soon as that whānau don't have to stand in the chapel alone and they don't have to ask us to pall-bear their dad because there's not enough in that 10-person group to do it, then they are happy," she said.
"As soon as we don't have to see that family have to do it by themselves, that's all we want."
She was confident whānau would be able to adhere to the government's strict safety policies, including physical distancing, hand hygiene and no food and drink congregations afterwards.
Wairarapa woman Irihapeti Roberts started a petition yesterday calling on the government to ease the restrictions on tangi, and allow whānau to mourn their dead with dignity under alert level 2.
Her Nan does not have long to live, and said the announcement today meant everything for her whānau.
"My whānau will be relieved, anything more than 10 is a bonus for us," she said.
"On a personal note, our only priority is to be able to lay our kuia to rest with dignity. In my opinion, people power has prevailed."
Prominent iwi leaders such as Pou Temara, Haami Piripi and Rahui Papa have publicly opposed the 10 person limit on tangihanga, but not everyone agrees.
Iwi chairs forum pandemic group spokesperson Mike Smith said other iwi leaders were quite happy with that limit, and some marae had made it clear they still would not be allowing any more than 10 people at a tangi.
"There's no one group across te ao Māori, although there are groups of views," he said.
"What I've heard is that many marae trustees and iwi leaders are concerned about the wellbeing of their kaumatua and they want to stay in either lockdown four or lockdown three restrictions."
Te Whānau ā Apanui leader Rawiri Waititi has been vocal about his opposition to the tangihanga restrictions from the outset.
He said it was not up to the government to make decisions on tikanga Māori, and the Eastern Bay of Plenty iwi planed to hold tangihanga with up to 100 people at a time under alert level 2 regardless of the new 50 person limit.
"We are placing a limit of 100 people on our marae, and we made that decision last Friday," he said.
"We are not stupid and we're actually more intelligent than the Crown has made us out to be in order to keep our whakapapa safe. There's no way we're going to put our people in jeopardy, and to have the Crown enter into our space of mana and start determining what we do in there is outrageous."
He said he was proud many Māori had stood up for their beliefs, and had forced the government to listen.
"I am absolutely proud of the pressure that our people have put on the government in terms of their blanket laws that affect the customary rights and our tikanga, and to practice our culture in own own way."
Funeral directors wishing to hold a service of up to 50 people must first send an application to the Ministry of Health requesting an extension, and declare that health requirements have been met.