Māori leaders in Hawke's Bay say moving to Level 2 will not bring back cultural traditions, but the sacrifice is worth it if kuia and kaumatua can be saved.
Physical contact is "vital" in Maori culture, particularly on a marae, but Covid-19 rules and restrictions have in effect put an end to that, Hastings councillor Henare O'Keefe says.
O'Keefe, also Te Aranga Marae chairman, said levels 3 and 4 had "obliterated the cultural side of what it means to be on a marae".
"There is no hongi, you can't hug, there's no manaaki for visitors, and in level 2 that won't change."
Under Level 2, gathering indoors and outdoors will be permitted but numbers will be limited.
"With tangi there will be no more than 100 people allowed," he said.
"We will have to meet with family, go through the rules in-depth.
"And it would be interesting to see how that will work because how do you tell a family in their deepest, darkest, hours that they can only have a certain number of people at a funeral?"
He said pre-Covid restrictions, the marae was supplying food to those in need.
"We were told we couldn't actively distribute food and help the community. That was very hard.
"I get that these are unprecedented times, but where there is a need you need to get in there. Let's hope we will be able to do that in level 2."
Ngati Kahungunu chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana said under level 2, Maori will have to look after and out for, their most vulnerable.
"Maori have been most observant of the rules during the lockdown, and I am asking that we look after our most precious and most vulnerable - our kaumatua," Tomoana said.
"We will be more cautious going into Level 2 [than some others], because we know that pandemics can kill us.
"We already know that Maori live 10 years less that non-Maori."
His advice was for people to "not rush" into anything.
"We will contact Maori wardens regarding separation, seating and serving in events like tangi and weddings.
"We want to preserve the status of kuia and kaumatua, and not rush out and do wild parties. Look after your elders and each other."
He said people should place a rahui around themselves, keeping distance, keeping safe and practicing the Kahungunu wave, the region's widely used non-contact form of greeting.
"Maori have been perfectly compliant with the rules and regulations and I want it to stay that way."