Call for lo­cal mor­tu­ary re­newed

Te Puke Times - - NEWS - By CAR­MEN HALL

Iwi have re­newed calls for a mor­tu­ary to be estab­lished in Tau­ranga but it is un­likely to hap­pen de­spite more than 100 coro­nial au­top­sies be­ing car­ried out ev­ery year out of the Western Bay of Plenty.

One kauma¯tua de­scribed the sit­u­a­tion as”cul­tur­ally in­sen­si­tive” and said it placed a fi­nan­cial strain on griev­ing fam­i­lies who had to travel to be with their loved ones who had died.

“It is heart-wrench­ing to have them go away some­where else and then come back,” Ngati Pukenga and Ngati Ta­ma­rawaho hapu spokesman Buddy Mikaere said.

“We would sup­port mor­tu­ary ser­vices in Tau­ranga to keep our peo­ple in the place they be­long and close to fam­ily.”

The Bay of Plenty District Health Board closed its mor­tu­ary on Jan­uary 30, 2010 be­cause it would have cost $2.5 mil­lion to up­grade it.

Fig­ures from the Min­istry of Jus­tice ob­tained un­der the Of­fi­cial In­for­ma­tion Act by the Bay of Plenty Times show from 2010 to 2016/17 — 694 au­top­sies on peo­ple from the Western Bay — were done in Ro­torua, Hamil­ton and Auck­land.

In 2016/17, 80 au­top­sies were car­ried out in Ro­torua, 39 in Hamil­ton and six in Auck­land. The min­istry de­clined to pro­vide the cost of the au­top­sies as it would take sub­stan­tial col­la­tion. It also did not record the num­ber of times a pathol­o­gist trav­elled with the body from Tau­ranga.

Mr Mikaere ques­tioned why Tau­ranga — the fastest grow­ing re­gional city in New Zealand — did not have a mor­tu­ary.

“It seems in­sen­si­ble to us, how is this ac­tu­ally hap­pen­ing? I can’t be­lieve it . . . it is kind of cul­tur­ally in­sen­si­tive.”

When the health board closed its ser­vice “every­body jumped up and down”, Ngati Rang­inui kauma¯tua Huikakahu Kawe said.

“Noth­ing came out of it, and that is why we are still here to­day with no ser­vices . . . we were not just do­ing it for Ma¯ori but for the wider com­mu­nity. It’s ex­tremely dis­ap­point­ing.”

Ngati Rang­inui Iwi act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive Dr Wendy Gille­spie said a past so­lu­tion for a mor­tu­ary in­cluded a crown/ pri­vate land agree­ment between the Gov­ern­ment and iwi.

“But the Gov­ern­ment did not en­gage in this as an op­tion.”

Data had iden­ti­fied Ma¯ori present late to health ser­vices, and an “im­pact is doc­tors are of­ten un­able to sign off a med­i­cal cer­tifi­cate of cause of death, there­fore, re­quir­ing coro­nial ser­vices”.

“This de­lay brings a dis­rup­tion to the griev­ing process . . . Ngati Rang­inui Iwi con­tin­ues to hold the cre­ation of Tau­ranga Moana based mor­tu­ary for all peo­ples of the Bay as an iwi pri­or­ity.”

Min­istry of Jus­tice Courts and Tri­bunals group man­ager Jac­que­lyn Shan­non said rep­re­sen­ta­tives had pre­vi­ously met with iwi rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Tau­ranga Moana to dis­cuss the pro­vi­sion of coro­nial post-mortems and mor­tu­ary ser­vices to the area.

“At that time, iwi rep­re­sen­ta­tives re­it­er­ated their needs for Tau­ranga-based coro­nial post-mortem and mor­tu­ary ser­vices.

“Although we recog­nised their con­cerns, we ad­vised that the min­istry did not close the Tau­ranga mor­tu­ary.”

The health board’s de­ci­sion to with­draw from pro­vid­ing post­mortem ser­vices in Tau­ranga meant the min­istry had to pur­chase those ser­vices from else­where, pri­mar­ily in Ro­torua, she said.

Bay of Plenty District Health Board qual­ity and pa­tient safety man­ager Deb­bie Brown said the mor­tu­ary at Tau­ranga Hos­pi­tal did not meet ac­cred­i­ta­tion stan­dards and had to be closed.

“The pro­vi­sion of coro­nial and mor­tu­ary ser­vices sits with the Min­istry of Jus­tice, and we would be happy to work with them on any res­o­lu­tion.”

Le­gacy Funer­als gen­eral man­ager Kiri Ran­dall said if an au­topsy were re­quired, most fam­i­lies would pre­fer it was done lo­cally.

Ear­lier this month the Ro­torua Hos­pi­tal mor­tu­ary, which did coro­nial post-mortems for the Min­istry of Jus­tice, se­cured a slice of $7 mil­lion of ad­di­tional gov­ern­ment fund­ing to op­er­ate its Mon­day to Fri­day ser­vice.

Its area cov­ered Ro­torua, Tau­ranga, Whakata¯ne, po¯tiki, Gis­borne, Taupo¯, Tu­rangi, down into the Desert Rd area, Toko­roa and Puta¯ruru.

Lakes District Health Board chief ex­ec­u­tive Ron Dun­ham said at the time it meant less stress for lo­cal fam­i­lies as they were not hav­ing to travel. O¯

PHOTO / FILE

Pukenga and Ngati Ta­ma­rawaho hapu kau­matua Buddy Mikaere says a mor­tu­ary is needed “to keep our peo­ple in the place they be­long”.

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