Meet Francis and Kaiora Tipene from THE CASKETEERS
Francis (Te Rarawa) hails from Pawarenga, Northland and discovered his calling more than 13 years ago with his first job at an Auckland funeral home. His passion for the job blossomed into a fully–fledged vocation, and Francis and his wife Kaiora run their own very successful funeral directing business, Tipene Funerals, with two busy branches in Onehunga and Henderson. Renowned for his guitar-playing ability and beautiful singing voice, Francis leads every funeral with aroha, dignity and precision. It’s a 24 hour, 7 day a week, year round operation but Francis says “it’s all worth it, because I’m proud to be a Maori and also to be a Funeral Director for our people”.
Kaiora (Te Rarawa, Ngai Takoto) was born and bred in Kaitaia She met her future husband at Te Wananga o te Takiura (Maori Training College) where Francis was learning te reo, in which he is fluent, and she was studying teaching, looking to work in total immersion Māori for Kura Kaupapa.
Initially drawn to his love of music and stunning singing voice, Francis and Kai’s romance blossomed and now her role as Company Director is integral to the successful running of Tipene Funerals. Together, Francis and Kaiora have five children and are the stars of the hit television series The Casketeers (airing on TVNZ in New Zealand and on Netflix internationally).
In January 2020, the couple released the number one best-selling book Life as a Casketeer: What the Business of Death Can Teach the Living through HarperCollins NZ.