Reverend wants wider discussion on Euthanasia Bill

John Boynton 

MPs are being questioned about how euthanasia fits in with their Maori values, as a bill legalising euthanasia makes its way through parliament.

ACT Party leader David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill was drawn from the ballot last year and it passed its first reading in December with strong backing from Maori MPs across all political parties.

Reverend Chris Huriwai questioned Maori MPs on Twitter about why they support the bill.

The Gisborne-based Reverend said he does not back the bill because of personal beliefs, but he wanted to spark a wider discussion on euthanasia.

Traditional practices affected

“Not necessarily discussions for or against euthanasia but just keeping those … Maori concerns in our minds as we continued to grapple with something as big as this.”

Mr Huriwai said that euthanasia might affect traditional practices such as tangi or funerals.

“How does a kaikaranga respond to calling on the body of someone who elected for themselves to die? How does someone who’s doing whaikorero mihi to the departed with that sort of ever-present reality in the background.”

He said that there were traditional Maori concepts including whare mate – where those who were sick or dying lived outside of the main village, similar to a hospice.

MP advises care

Green Party MP Marama Davidson said her taha Maori and values helped to guide her decision to back the bill to the select committee stage.

As party spokesperson for the elderly and people with disabilities, Ms Davidson said great care was needed to ensure vulnerable groups were protected.

“We make sure that people are getting the necessary palliative care to improve their quality of life, so they do not feel they are a burden.”

Maori attitude

Hospice New Zealand Maori advisory group chair Ria Earp said that Maori were generally more open about death.

“There is more of an ability and willingness to discuss death and dying and particularly how we care for our funeral services and how we care for grief.”

Ms Earp said Hospice New Zealand does not support the bill, and would like to see more focus on palliative care.

Parliament’s justice committee is currently seeking public submissions on the bill.

John Boynton is Te Manu Korihi Reporter at Radio New Zealand. The above story has been published by Indian Newslink under a Special Agreement with www.rnz.co.nz

Photo Caption:

  1. Reverend Chris Huriwai (Image Courtesy: YouTube)
  2. Marama Davidson (Photo by Alexander Robertson for RNZ)

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