Native Affairs – Rite to die

By Wepiha Te Kanawa

Les Grace is an outpatient at Hospice West Auckland and suffers from a range of medical issues. He says he would like the option of euthanasia when the time comes.

“One of my kids would be right against it, but with all the pain that I'm going through, I have been through sort of small versions of it and I hate to be around when the big version comes around. It's going to be like hell.”

The Parliamentary Health Select Committee is currently looking at submissions for euthanasia, which could potentially allow assisted dying to become legal.

Dr Huhana Hickey, a research fellow in Taupua Waiora Centre for Māori Health Research at AUT University is one of few Māori to make a submission. 

She says euthanasia should not be legal in New Zealand and as a Māori doesn’t sit well with her culturally. 

“It’s a Pākehā concept it's not really our whakaaro we don't talk about it. There are some things we don't talk about publicly and I don't think a lot of Māori even know the process for putting in submissions it's a lot of energy.”

Tess Moeke-Maxwell is an expert on palliative care for Māori. She says generally Māori believe death and dying is a tapu subject. 

“A lot of our families are quite superstitious as you know pre-colonisation all of our health issues were filtered through and informed by a belief in the wairua, the spiritual realm.”