Regional | Health

Respecting tapu spaces in public hospitals

The Auckland City Hospital has adopted a Māori protocol approach when it comes to the transportation of tūpāpaku or dead bodies.

Illustrations on certain lift doors were introduced this week to clearly inform the public that while the lift is used to transport dead bodies, that they can still be used but ask it is treated with respect and for people not to carry consumables whilst in the lift.

Chief Advisor for Tīkanga Māori at Waitematā and Auckland DHBs, Dame Naida Glavish explains that the lifts were specially made for tūpāpaku to be accompanied by their family.

She says food and drink are not permitted in these spaces so the mana and tapu of the tūpāpaku and their whānau is upheld.

Dame Glavish suggests that other DHB and hospitals should follow suit, "Here and Waitematā are the only places with these lifts (protocols), following the release of a book called Tīkanga Best Practise."

Kaiora Tipene, of Tipene Funerals, agrees the new protocol for the lifts is respectful towards the tūpāpaku.

In their line of work, she says that their team has noticed how non-Māori are more receptive to tīkanga Māori practices these days.

She also explains that their staff understand the importance of tīkanga in their own workplace.

"We have some rooms that have rāhui placed on them. You can't eat in the chapel but in the meeting rooms, its fine."

Dame Glavish says having the birds of the forest as the design on the lifts' doors further acknowledges the tapu of the tūpāpaku.