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Urutapu Funerals: Pioneering Sustainable and Culturally Appropriate Funeral Services

Decolonizing Death, and providing whanau with the tools to weave while they grieve

Urutapu Funerals, a visionary team driven by their commitment to cultural preservation and revitisation. With their unique business idea centered around sustainable and culturally appropriate funeral services, Urutapu Funerals aims to revolutionise the industry by re-introducing the use of woven kōpaki tupāpaku (flax caskets).

Led by a team of passionate individuals, Urutapu Funerals offers a natural alternative to commonly used funeral practices. The team’s inspiration for this venture came from a late-night call from founder Pania Roa’s father, who had attended a friend’s funeral where the deceased was wrapped in a kopaki. Recognising the significance of this cultural practice and equipped with weaving skills, the founder committed to mastering the art of creating kopaki.


The 12-month goal for Urutapu Funerals encompasses various ambitious objectives. Firstly, the team aims to successfully complete the Kōkiri programme, leveraging its comprehensive support and mentorship to accelerate their business. integrating technology to aid efficiency. Alongside technical advancements, Urutapu Funerals also aims to finalize essential resources such as human resources, karakia (prayers), and waiata (songs) folders. Furthermore, they aspire to assemble a long-term advisory board and secure $50,000 of capital funding to propel their business forward.

When asked why they are the right team to develop this idea, the team confidently expressed their deep passion for the work and their role as kaitiaki (guardians) of Tupāpaku. Rooted in whakapapa (genealogy) and generations of ancestral knowledge, they believe their unique connection to the traditions and cultural significance of funeral rites positions them as the ideal custodians for this business venture.

Through their participation in the Kōkiri Business Accelerator programme, Urutapu Funerals has expanded their networks, gained valuable insights and learnings, and accessed the X factor of an advisory board. By immersing themselves in this supportive ecosystem, they hope to transform their ideas from concepts in their minds to tangible realities that can take flight.

As Urutapu Funerals embarks on this transformative journey, they embody the spirit of innovation and cultural preservation, setting a remarkable example for the funeral industry and beyond. With their sustainable and culturally appropriate approach, they are poised to leave an indelible mark on the way farewell ceremonies are conducted, honoring the traditional – and decolonising death.

Connect with Urutapu

EMAIL: [email protected]


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