It had just gone at midnight when Kiaora Tipene touched his first dead body after receiving a call from his overwhelmed husband to help him put on corpses.
Francis' sudden and striking passion for the funeral industry led the young couple from the isolated city of Kaitaha, in rural Northland, to the largest city in New Zealand, Auckland. In one-year-old baby, Tippenny had no knowledge of the industry, but only a vague feeling that death could be done better. They were only 21 years old.
"I was very hesitant, I had him leave his work clothes in the garage before she went into the house. I was frightened, afraid to help him, "says Tippen, sitting in the lush armchair in his office," Onengunga, "the four-week-old newborn who slept in her arms.
The family just retired from their home over the dungeon, and Caiora says she still feels most comfortable in the upstairs apartment, where the staff and some ladies share kai (the food) while Tippen's children play and work around them.
"I started talking to the bodies while I was working with them, with small conversations. So I managed to overcome all the painful feeling … past and like Francis, it became my passion. "
It's a passion that has made Tipenes into world-class television stars after Netflix took a local documentary about the couple's working life: The Casketeers. The first season, tasty, moving, honest and cheerful, saw the modest family become a celebrity in New Zealand and now they are recognized everywhere they go to the small island nation with less than 5 million people.
The spinoff called the show "moment Kiwi classic," while New Zealand Radio described it as "unexpected success". The acquisition of Netflix has increased the game – even if the family does not know exactly what the noise is. "It's just Netflix, is not it?" Caiora says, looking confused. "We are not much in all this."
This is the summer vacation in New Zealand and Kiaora, 35, has five children caring for them (all boys), a glamorous photo of Women's Day and an inbox, clogged with requests from people around the world who want she and Francis to direct their funerals, open funeral boughs in their country.
"A trip to Alaska was tempting," says Caiora with her big, warm smile that invites you to tell her everything. – It's unpleasant to say, but the business is good.
After three years of sweet talk from a friend and television producer with Southern Pictures, Annabelle Lee-Matter, Tippenis agreed to shoot a pilot episode of The Casketeers.
Kiaora tells a very reluctant Francis that a realistic presentation of their work can be useful to the industry and help people "educate" about modern death in New Zealand and especially about the practices of maori: open coffins sleeping with the body, and fiery marae dispatches (tribal meetings).
Producers told their family their personal lives (weight loss programs, pregnancy and biscuit theft) that had to be part of the mix – a dock on their work required ease, Kaiora said: "darkness and light." It is this combination that has won so many fans.
"As maori, the images of our loved ones are very sacred and they should not be exposed in vain or have no disrespect. Originally Francis was hard not. I saw some benefits, I felt that the funeral directors had been misunderstood.
For Caiho, the greatest motivation for consent was the possibility to break the delayed taboos and introduce viewers to a warmer and fun side of the only security of life.
"I like that we can all drop it with each other. We cry and we cry out to one another – we are probably too honest, "says Caiora, who does not see any of the episodes before broadcasting, and admits that sometimes they can cause problems when true feelings – and favorites – are favorites. employees – are revealed.
"But I feel that without these moments we could not go through difficult times. Babies, this young mother who was shot in the first season … we must have this noise to balance our lives. "
Lee-Mather says doco's global success is particularly special as it is funded by Te Mangai Pāho, an indigenous funding body whose task is to promote the language and culture of maori.
Te reo is used frequently and casually throughout the seasons, with subtitles provided. The family of Tipeni and some of their staff speak freely, and Caiora and Francis are often called upon to practice cultural practices for families with dead people, including caracas (prayers) and caring (spiritual appeals).
Lee-Mater says Typing's portrayal is not similar to Maori's history seen on the world stage, and local beliefs and practices around death have fascinated viewers and expanded their understanding of New Zealand's life.
"I feel that Francis is Jake's highest counterpoint," thought Heck of "Ever Warriors." I'm so proud to be able to show this other representation of a man of maori who is Francis and how wonderful it is, "says Lee-Meter.
"The show takes away the death taboo and makes it less scary and less scary. It allows people to talk to their families, ask questions and understand better. This is the only thing we all know for sure – we will all die. "
• The Casketeers now appears on Netflix