Dying for a second biscuit
Takahue man Pete Smith has been acting for much of his adult life, but he wasn’t reading from a script last week when he said he was literally “dying for a second biscuit”.
Mr Smith, 60, known for roles in films including Once Were Warriors, The Piano and The Quiet Earth, who has been undergoing dialysis for four years, said he had been refused further treatment at the renal unit at Kaitaia Hospital, and had been told that he would have to travel to Whanga¯rei three times a week for the treatment that was keeping him alive.
He was refusing to do so, knowing that decision would kill him, perhaps within days, a week or two at most.
The renal unit’s decision to refuse further treatment, which the Northland Age understands was made by clinicians, with the support of the DHB, followed an incident over a biscuit. Dialysis patients were given a cup of coffee and two biscuits when they arrived for treatment, Mr Smith said, and he had objected when he was given one whole biscuit and the remains of a broken one. He asked for another and was refused, a nurse telling him that he had been given two.
Mr Smith, who took offence at effectively being accused of lying, said he “spun out”, kicking a table over.
He was told to leave and not go back. He would have to go to Whanga¯rei for further treatment, and when he said he would not do that, he was told he would die.
He conceded that his countenance might be intimidating to some, and that his behaviour on this occasion might have been questionable — “They walk on egg shells when I’m there but I don’t go looking for it” — but argued that the unit had an obligation to resolve the issue, whether that be by offering assistance with anger management or addressing the cultural needs of Ma¯ori patients.
“Someone — a Ma¯ori health service provider, mental health — has to have some responsibility for this,” he said.
His concerns included that
albeit after an incident at his home, when the driver who had been sent to collect him saw Mr Smith and his daughter “having a domestic” and drove off, running over and killing two of his dogs as he did so.
Following that he had had to make his own way to Whanga¯rei, and was not prepared to do so again.
“I’m not leaving Kaitaia,” he said. “This is my town, my home. My father, daughter and nephew all died at that hospital, and so will I.
“Surely someone can do something about this. Why doesn’t someone say, ‘Give the man a biscuit and shut up’?”
Earlier this year Mr Smith refused treatment in protest at the regular sight of a sentenced prisoner being delivered to the main hospital entrance for renal dialysis “in chains”. The sight of the elderly man, who he believed had to be at least in his 70s, and in no condition to escape, arriving so publicly had reduced one kuia to tears, he said, while it angered and upset many others.
He said he would no longer present himself for the process that was keeping him alive until he gained some “traction”. The issue was resolved the same day that his protest was published by the Northland Age.
Pete Smith was last week refusing to travel to Whanga¯ rei for dialysis after being refused further treatment in Kaitaia.