Tight fo­cus on tri­als of the ter­mi­nally ill

The Northland Age - - Local News -

An Opononi woman who is us­ing Ma¯ori healing meth­ods to bat­tle can­cer is mak­ing a doc­u­men­tary film that high­lights a lack of tax­payer-funded fi­nan­cial sup­port for the ter­mi­nally ill.

For­mer school teacher Tanya Filia was di­ag­nosed with glioblas­toma mul­ti­forme Grade 4, a form of brain can­cer, in 2013, and un­der­went chemo­ther­apy and ra­di­a­tion.

Af­ter a year of treat­ment, she went into re­mis­sion, but in 2015 her headaches were back and she was told she had two months to live.

It was then that she took her chances on ron­goa¯ Ma¯ori and nat­u­ral ther­a­pies.

She prays, has mir­im­iri or spir­i­tual mas­sages, drinks herbal teas made es­pe­cially for her by to­hunga matakite or Ma¯ori spir­i­tual heal­ers, and takes vi­ta­min C in­tra­venously. How­ever, not all her treat­ments are sub­sidised, and her wha¯nau is strug­gling to pay for them.

Ms Filia is able to ac­cess pub­licly-funded ron­goa¯ Ma¯ori for one hour ev­ery fort­night at Hokianga Hos­pi­tal, and has set aside $272 per week to help pay for her vi­ta­min C and other drugs, in­clud­ing sil­ve­strol.

Ms Filia said she was in­spired to fight for ter­mi­nally ill pa­tients by for­mer Whanga¯rei po­lice of­fi­cer An­ton Ku­raia, who was di­ag­nosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a type of blood can­cer that is usu­ally fa­tal within months. Be­fore he died early last year he walked 809km from Whanga¯rei to Wellington to raise aware­ness and money for fight­ing can­cer nat­u­rally.

With the help of her friend Jessie McVeagh, from Rawene, Ms Filia made a 32-minute doc­u­men­tary, He Oranga Pu­mau, about her healing jour­ney, which has screened through­out North­land and at Par­lia­ment.

The for­mer Ko­hukohu School prin­ci­pal is now mak­ing an hour­long doc­u­men­tary that will be sub­mit­ted to the New Zealand Film Fes­ti­val with a view to high­light­ing a lack of gov­ern­ment sub­si­dies for can­cer treat­ment drugs.

“Pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ments, and the cur­rent gov­ern­ment, have turned their backs on ter­mi­nally ill pa­tients. The only thing they do is to re­fer you to hos­pi­tals and chap­lains,” she said.

“We’re proac­tively try­ing to make a change to­wards bet­ter care and sup­port for all ter­mi­nally ill pa­tients and their fam­i­lies in New Zealand. Peo­ple should have a right to choose the type of treat­ment they pre­fer.”

Ali­son Thom, from the Min­istry of Health, said gov­ern­ments over the years had con­tracted tra­di­tional health prac­ti­tion­ers to sup­port ron­goa Ma¯ori within the health and dis­abil­ity sec­tor.

“This work is on­go­ing,” she said.

“We’ve also en­gaged with the ron­goa¯ wha¯nau, in­clud­ing tra­di­tional heal­ers, Ma¯ori health providers and iwi around the role tra­di­tional healing can have with main­stream ser­vices.”

The min­istry cur­rently pro­vided $1.9 mil­lion or ron­goa Ma¯ori across 18 providers through­out the coun­try, and had re­cently re­newed con­tracts for the next three years.


Tanya Filia is push­ing for drugs for ter­mi­nally ill pa­tients to be sub­sidised.

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