March 18, 2019
Karakia helps pave way for mosque post mortems
Relationships formed years ago by the police ethnic services division have paid off as police mobilise to deal with the aftermath of the Christchurch mosque shootings.
Deputy Commissioner Wally Haumaha, the head of Māori, Pacific and ethnic services, says memorandums of understanding were signed with Muslim organisations more than a decade ago.
He says as well as brigning many of their own liaison officers to Christchurch, the police have also brought many of the country's imans or religious leaders to the city.
They have also been involved in karakia and blessing of sites like the mortuary being used for the 50 worshippers killed by the shooter.
"The Muslim leaders are absolutely appreciative we can tie in Māori culture alongside their culture, guide them through the process. Yesterday morning before we commenced the process of post mortem a few of use went into the mortuary alongside Ngāi Tahu representatives to lift that tapu and to allow our police officers and the morticians, the pathologists who arrived from all over the country to carry out that process. It was an emotional time," Mr Haumaha says.
He has been talking with Muslim leaders about the process of releasing the bodies, and in some cases repatriating them to their home countries.
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