Brandt Shortland has been appointed to the newly created position of Deputy Chief Coroner. Of Ngāti Hine descent Brandt has been the Northland coroner for the past nine years.
Shortland says there's nothing more that we all share in common than death.
“Well, I guess it's big for my people and whānau, I must say that. It's a new position that's being created by statute and it'll be the first one in New Zealand in terms of appointments. But obviously, a role that carries responsibility in supporting the office of the chief coroner and the other coroners of the country and of course for Māori people our whānau it's a big responsibility there too.”
Brandt has been the Northland coroner for over nine years and he acknowledges the great support he's received from his people since first taking up the position.
“One old kaumatua said to me, ‘Boy, don't go riding in on a white horse. You'll get your head knocked off.’ What he was telling me was Ngāpuhi has a history of challenging authority head on. He told me to go in quietly and listen. I did that for two years and that was the best advice I got.
I'm grateful for the support I've had from my Ngati Hine people my Ngāpuhi people and I acknowledge them in this position.”
As Deputy Chief Coroner a key focus for Brandt will be on the pastoral care of all stakeholders who deal with tough coroner issues on a daily basis to provide a 24-hour service.
“It’s not just a coroner systems. The coroners, its pathologists, it's the funeral directors and the hospitals. All those that are in the system who are trying their best to try and bring together a system that works for people. It is about whānau and we're the first to acknowledge that sometimes it doesn't go perfect but certainly as a whole it's a big step forward in trying to make things better.”
A ceremony to mark Brandts' official appointment will take place next month.