Bill to change whānau access to tūpāpaku

By Jessica Tyson

Public submissions are now open on the Coroners 'Access to Body of Dead Person' Amendment Bill, which is being considered by Parliament’s Māori Affairs Committee.

The bill implements recommendations by the Māori Affairs Committee’s report into the management of and whanau access to tūpāpaku.

In the report the committee recommends Government to “consider implementing a national standard for accessing and managing tūpāpaku that supports tikanga Māori and the expectations of other cultures in New Zealand.”

It also recommends Government to facilitate establishing an appropriate place for whānau to initially receive tūpāpaku entering New Zealand’s international airports.

“We initiated this inquiry in response to concerns raised by whānau regarding access to and management of the tūpāpaku of deceased whānau members," the committee wrote.

“Its purpose is to consider whether any legislative or regulatory changes are needed to ensure that best practice is followed for whānau to access, and make decisions about, the tūpāpaku of whānau members immediately after a death and until burial.”

The committee says this inquiry is not restricted to Māori and it is relevant to all New Zealanders with an interest in the issues.

The public is advised to send their submission on the bill by midnight on Friday May 25.