Giving voice to kaumātua perspectives and experiences, and those of older people in general, during the COVID-19 pandemic has been rare because older people are more often spoken about than provided with opportunities to speak for themselves. When they have been spoken about, the focus has been on their vulnerability. While such vulnerabilities are a critical concern, this focus ignored their active participation in and contributions to their communities.
This article focuses on the cultural resources that made Māori carers resilient when providing care to an ill family member at the end of life. Caring often took place against a backdrop of poverty, personal factors, racism and a lack of health literacy affecting access to resources. The action values of aroha and manaakitanga, compassionate giving, caring, receiving and sharing established a resilient foundation upon which whānau engaged in the illness-to-death trajectory. It served to fortify the dying and their whānau and provided a sense of belonging and a meaningful way of engaging with illness, dying, death and bereavement.
Indigenous New Zealand Māori have maintained many customs evident in our pre-contact histories and, ever-pragmatic, we allowed and continue to allow for the introduction and infl uence of contemporary ideologies and objects of signifi cance. In te ao Māori, our world, such objects include taonga tuku iho, treasures from the past handed down to us. Our taonga are revered repositories that can reveal much about their owners, those owner's families, and the histories of our people, preceding and subsequent. Their tangible presence is often subtle, yet their social signifi cance can be historically and culturally far-reaching, movingly evocative and even controversial.