“Tangi” by Hone Tuwhare


In this essay I will be discussing the key ideas in the text ”Tangi” by Hone Tuwhare. In this poem Tuwhare attends two different funerals. The first funeral he attends is an average traditional European funeral, and the second is a tangi (a traditional Maori funeral). He feels very different about these two funerals but the main idea is how different cultures deal with grief. His mood in the first funeral is very uncomfortable but when he carrys on to the tangi he feels belonging and comfortable. I will be discussing this contrast between the funerals. I will also be discussing the negatives Tuwhare uses.

 The use of negatives by Tuwhare at the Christian funeral creates a feeling that Tuwhare feels alone and disconnected. This ties in with the main ideas of grief at the two different funerals. He uses ‘I did not meet her’ and ‘nor detect her fragrance’ these help create the negitive mood. Later on he starts using more descriptive words like ‘i heard her’ and ‘i caught her’ which helps to describe his sence of belonging, this gives him closeur about the death. This relates back to the idea of contrast between the funerals.

This poem as very affective contrast between the funerals. This is very important because of it being a main idea. It starts with Tuwhare attending a traditionl, formal European funeral. We can tell because of the ‘violets’ and the ‘carnations’, it also mentions borderd paths wich relate back to the formalness. But when Tuwhare arrives at the tangi the whole mood changes because he is with his own culture. This makes him feel commutable. The quote that explains his comfortableness is “softer pain” compared to “I did not meet her” which he says at the European funeral. We can tell it’s the tangi because of the quote “green-leaved anguish” which is relating to the green leaved items which Maori women wear on their heads at funerals. He also says “the bowed heads of old women” which is giving the image of the old Maori women with their heads bowed in mourning.

Tuwhare very affectively uses these two techniques to create a very well thought out, deep meaningly poem about two funerals. The author’s purpose in this poem is to show the way the two different cultures react to death and grieve differently.

By James Anderson