We need to hear Māori and Pacific voices on the euthanasia debate

by Mamari Stephens, e-Tangata, 21 February 2016

There’s been considerable debate within mainstream media outlets about euthanasia. I know this because Stuff has a tab under its “National” news page called “Euthanasia”.

In my view, there’s considerable work being done to prepare the ground for David Seymour’s bill to be ushered into law, should it be drawn.

Of course, politics being what it is, the bill may not succeed anyway. Nevertheless, the time is ripe for Māori and Pacific peoples to be heard in what is developing into a nationwide debate.

Except I’m not hearing them. There are a few opinion pieces here and there, but nothing like the furious debate at the time of the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification (which drew 200 submissions from Māori), and the attention (rightly) given to Māori suicide prevention generally.

What might Māori and Pacific practices around death and dying have to reveal about assisted dying? What might tikanga reveal? While religious creed might uphold the sanctity of life, how might such creeds influence or align with tikanga Māori perceptions of the sanctity of life?

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