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Everyone should be given an equal chance to life

The Chair of the National Maori Authority and Executive Director of the New Zealand Maori Council, Matthew Tukaki, has this morning written to Maori members of Parliament to consider, for the time being, voting against the third reading of the end of life bill:

“We are discussing the ability for those with terminal illnesses to end their lives and yet we are also trying to battle the Government and Pharmac to fund lifesaving and life extending medications for wahine and whanau when it comes to forms of cancer. The whole debate is premature when we cannot even sort out that question. Then we have a complete under funding of the health system, we have a total lack of investment in medical technology and the implementation of new and innovative approaches to healthcare.” Tukaki said

“We have no dedicated palliative care programs or facilities for our people, and we have a significant amount of health disparities between Maori and non-Maori – all of which lead our life expectancy to be lower. Problem on top of problem when it comes to end of life. If we had the sort of world class health system as many of the countries do who have gone down that path, then I might have a different view. But we do not.” Tukaki said

“I am not against the concept of death with dignity, but I find it hard to support a bill such as this when we have so many challenges in the health system that remain unresolved. And we have no national strategy or approach when it comes to end of life care or palliative care. Until we have that then all we are doing is jumping at shadows.” Tukaki said

“I am not against choice; I am not against death with dignity – I am against a Government and health system that do not give every New Zealander an equal and equitable chance at a fight for life as opposed to the acceptance of death.” Tukaki said

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