National | Adrian Rurawhe

Te Tai Hauāuru candidates staunchly oppose voters on End of Life Choice Act

The most popular Te Tai Hauāuru candidates, Adrian Rurawhe and Debbie Ngarewa Packer, are firmly opposing the End of Life Choice Act despite the majority of their voters supporting it.

It comes after a poll released tonight shows 57 per cent of voters are in support of the End of Life Choice Act but Rurawhe, of the Labour Party, and Packer, of the Māori Party, oppose it.

“I just wonder if people are not just saying they support euthanasia or they support the bill. They are two different things. Most people haven’t read the bill and don’t know its content and the severity against vulnerable people,” Rurawhe says.

Out of 489 people interviewed in the Māori Television Curia Research poll, 278 voted in favour while 114 voted against. Ninety-six were unsure.

“I’m worried about if we are in a situation where we have inequities in health and delivering health services to Māori, then what happens when that Māori, who is already in a bad situation, gets pressured into taking that option," Rurawhe says.

The End of Life Choice Act gives people with a terminal illness the option of requesting assisted dying. In the act, assisted dying refers to "a person's doctor or nurse practitioner giving them medication to relieve their suffering by bringing on death; or the taking of medication by the person to relieve their suffering by bringing on death."

Packer agrees with Rurawhe and says the rest of the Māori Party members are against the act.

“It’s really important that our whānau out there actually read the detail about it because the devil is in the detail," Packer says.

“One of our candidates has called it 'dead man walking,' and I know that’s cruel, because we know in that situation if you haven’t got whānau around you… you don’t have to speak to whānau about it.”

Packer says voters need to have a better understanding of the act.

"The detail on this bill will put us in a back seat, certainly if we’re dealing with inequities, certainly if we’re not informed," she says.

"We are whakapapa and we protect whakapapa and I just really do implore that our whānau read the detail. There’s not been enough publicity done at a level our whānau can really understand the consequences.”

Rurawhe says, “It’s now fully up to the people at home but I would ask the people at home to think really carefully about the way they vote and that they consider vulnerable people in that situation because people, as we’ve seen overseas, will be influenced into taking that option against their will.”

Parliament passed the act but it has not come into force. The act will only come into force if more than 50 per cent of voters in the referendum vote 'Yes'.