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End Of Life Choice Act “A Wrong Deal For Māori”

For Dominique Tamihana, reclaiming her Māori identity has led her to question the End of Life Choice Act.

“A few years ago, I supported euthanasia as a good thing,” says Dominique, a law student of Ngai Te Rangi and Waitaha descent at the University of Waikato. “What I have studied in the last two years has compelled me. Before I studied, I used to be ashamed to be Māori because of what I had experienced. And now I just have this whole new desire to help our people.”


That yearning to help has seen Dominique put her name to the website whanauconcern.nz. The site seeks to address the End of Life Choice Act referendum from a Māori perspective.

“I did a Māori paper and Tiriti o Waitangi Kaupapa, and I believe that Māori are the most disadvantaged in this Act.


“In the Treaty Paper, we learned a lot about how Māori are already marginalised in the health system. They’re not properly cared for in life; how will they be cared for when it comes to death?”


Whanauconcern.nz collects quotes from Māori who are on public record against the Act. Dame Tariana Turia, disability advocate Claire Freeman, presenter Kanoa Lloyd and Dr Shane Reti are some of the groundswell of Māori that Dominique says are speaking out.


The other half of the site has information about the Act, including tikanga Māori, how the Act compares with holistic health model Te Whare Tapa Whā and the amendments that were put forward to make the Act safer.


There’s a common theme, says Dominique. It’s all lacking.


“Many people are surprised to discover that Māori, whānau and the Treaty of Waitangi are just not acknowledged at all in the EOLC Act, despite efforts from MPs.


“The main reason that I’m against the Act is that it is more directed at a minority, but the risks affect the majority of people.


“There are issues about safeguards. It’s really surprising that for a doctor - there’s no test for the doctor to figure out whether there is coercion.”


Dominique asserts that the Act undermines the Treaty principles of protection, participation and partnership.


“Not requiring a witness at any point is definitely a huge one against Māori. Several overseas laws require an extra person to be present to keep everyone honest. This Act doesn’t have that.


“I feel the EOLC Act would affect all Māori. Our Rangatira no doubt signed Te Tiriti o Waitangi for the good of the next generations. However, subsequent events revealed otherwise. We need to consider what events could unfold should the Act pass. This Act is a whole new level of a wrong deal for Māori.”


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