An Auckland woman whose whānau were denied the opportunity to attend her uncle's tangihanga says the current exemption rules don't make sense.
Aimee Sinclair's calling out the Government for allowing athletes, including four Silver Ferns, to travel around the country while turning down applications from grieving families.
"We can't have a rematch on a tangihanga, we can't redo a funeral - you can redo a game," she said.
She's "overwhelmed" with the response she's had after posting about her situation on social media from hundreds of Kiwis who've experienced the same pain.
"Let's find a way to make amendments so families can mourn and have closure," she urged.
Her uncle died in Sydney and was flown back to New Zealand to be laid to rest in Whakatāne.
His wife, children and grandchildren in Australia were unable to fly with his body, but it was hoped his siblings in New Zealand would all be present for his farewell.
"We applied for exemptions, we went out and got Covid tests which returned negative and we had supporting letters from the funeral home."
Her whānau followed her uncle's body in a hearse to the Auckland border checkpoint, but that was as far as they could go.
"Our tūpāpaku had to travel alone," she said.
"It's by far been the hardest thing that I've ever had to experience, watching my mum cry over a laptop seeing her brother, and being let down multiple times applying for our exemptions."
Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said, "For people in those situations this a very distressing and difficult time".
He added that athletes are being allowed to travel with "business travel exemptions", rather than personal exemptions.
He says the decisions are made by the Director-General of Health, and "we have to trust his judgement in these matters".
"Why do we have the options to accompany our tūpāpaku home when our reasons aren't valid?" Sinclair said.