The Casketeers’ Kaiora Tipene on the importance of self-care and life balance

When the pressure of their new branch gets too much, Kaiora puts her foot down and makes some space for herself... and everyone is happier.

I'm a true advocate of self-care.

My whānau are in a profession where we care for others, and you can’t care for others if you haven’t looked after yourself. But recently I found myself in a situation where I wasn’t practising that and it was a real struggle for me.

We have just opened our new funeral home in Porirua. So we now have two branches in Auckland and one in Porirua. And it’s actually doing really well. Our team are just such a great bunch, but Francis and I still want to be there to support them and, of course, Francis has to make sure everything is perfect.

So we’re backwards and forwards to Porirua. We have a home down there now, but the travel time from Porirua to Wellington... ugh. On a good day, when there’s absolutely no traffic, I’d say it’s 25 minutes, but in peak traffic it’s probably an hour and a half.

One week, I was up and down three times. I was like, “Okay, cool I can do this. I can be between places and still manage. I can still be a mother, I can be a wife, I can do the publicity interviews for our new book, Tikanga.”

Then I realised that actually I couldn’t. Everything was just piling up on top of me and I just started to cry. I missed the kids, even though they’re so understanding. They know there are some families out there who are less fortunate, so they know that Mum’s got important mahi to do.

I realised then I had figure out ways to do this better. I had to find some time for myself, which I know is important. I turned around and said to my husband, “I’m sorry you’re just going to have to stay down there.”

Well, that didn’t go down well! But I said, “We thought we could do this together, but we can’t. We have to make some sacrifices along the way or you and I are going to find ourselves burnt out completely and we’re not going be able to give more.”

So we decided only one of us would head to Porirua at a time. Francis was down there for a week and a half, and that gave me some breathing space. I was able to spend time with my boys. I got to have my mochas from this beautiful, bougie cafe in Onehunga, Luscious. It’s a ritual. It’s almost like if I don’t have that mocha, man, my day’s going to be out. And I buy their beans to take to Porirua!

Now we can safely say we’ve learnt to plan. We’ve learnt to have some time management. And the nice thing is the kids missed me when I was away too. When I do come home after a few nights, the youngest ones all want to sleep in my bed. My eldest boy is just like, “It’s okay Mum, I’ve got spare room in my room if you need to get away from them.”

Kaiora Tipene works with her husband, Francis, as a funeral director. Their humour and knowledge of tikanga is featured in their Netflix show, The Casketeers.



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