To settle their affairs, the Maori met in their meeting houses. This ritual was called hui. One of the most important hui rituals was tangihanga, the traditional mourning ceremony for the deceased. When a person died, the body was laid out in the family or group home, openly on mats, later in coffins, to pay respect and say goodbye. Speeches were made and laments were sung. This ceremony could last weeks or months. That of King Tawhiao, who died in 1894, lasted almost two months. After that, the deceased were buried. Through missionization, the time of the mourning ceremony was shortened and burial was increasingly carried out according to Christian tradition.
Bodies of deceased, higher-ranking personalities were also mummified and placed in burial caves in the past. Andreas Reischek (1924: 172ff) describes this in his diaries as follows: