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TVNZ Te Karere: End of Life Choice bill against tikanga Māori

By Eruera Rerekura.

A Māori opponent of the End of Life Choice Bill says the proposed legislation goes against tikanga Māori and the Treaty of Waitangi.

Ngapuhi woman Claire Freeman was amongst those who presented her views to parliament this week.

The bill was due for its second reading but has been delayed until later this month (likely Wednesday 22 May 2019).

Here's our political reporter Eruera Rerekura.

This is Claire Freeman from Ngapuhi. She's a brave woman despite her burdens of the past. It was her family that urged her not to go down the suicide path.

"It doesn't take into account the collectivist model of Māori whanau, and certainly when I had decided to do assisted suicide, my whanau just didn't know how to take it. 'Well, it that still suicide, how do we bury her', like this goes against everything that we stand for as Māori." says Claire.

Dr Huhana Hickey is a disabilities expert who supports Freeman. She says Act leader David Seymour's bill goes against the Treaty of Waitangi. "There's been no cultural leads at all on this Bill, and there's no understanding in anything outside of Western cultural frameworks – and that's been part of the problem."

But as a Ngapuhi descendant himself, David Seymour's been offended by that. "Nobody speaks for all Māori. Māori are actually individuals who are capable of thinking for themselves. And it offends me when some people try to co-opt all of tikanga to push their particular point. I'm part Māori myself and I have a right to think whatever I like, not to have my identity co-opted by people trying to push a different agenda.

Although Freeman has a lot of compassion for the Prime Minister, she claims the Prime Minister has been ignoring her. "What she's done recently I applaud. I know she comes from a place of compassion, I just don't think many New Zealanders realise, this isn't just about the terminal ill cases – this is much wider than that." says Freeman.

Hickey continues, "We were in Parliament all day and we were actually being ignored by a couple of the major parties, where very few of them would look at us. I acknowledge that the Māori members of the Labour did actually let us speak to them." Dr Hickey is urging Labour's Māori caucus to show leadership on this issue. "I would actually like to see them represent some leadership. What are their views as Māori the Māori thinking of euthanasia." she said.

Labour MP Willie Jackson had this to say, "We think that we're taking a balanced view, and the Māori caucus doesn't have one set view either, so there are divisions in the Māori caucus in terms of this kaupapa. So it's not an easy kaupapa and it's wrong to assume that everyone has the same view. We're split right down the middle.

It's expected the 'End of Life Choice' bill will get its second reading on the 22nd of May.

Claire Freeman (Ngāpuhi) is a PhD student at AUT with a Masters in Health Science from Otago University. She is a disability advocate, social influencer, blogger and youth worker. Claire is a former euthanasia advocate but now speaks out against End of Life Choice Bill. She herself is a tetraplegic and multiple suicide survivor who, three years ago, was advised by her NZ psychiatrist and a psychologist to pursue assisted suicide or euthanasia overseas. She lives to tell the tale in a documentary (below) from #DefendNZ released Wednesday 3 April.

Watch Claire’s documentary in widescreen and read her complete story here.

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