National | Debate

Te Tai Tonga voters back euthanasia in poll

Māori voters in Te Tai Tonga have shown strong support for assisted dying in a newly released Māori Television Curia Market Research poll.

Some 60% of respondents said they would vote for the End of Life Choice Act in this year's election referendum, while 22% were against and 18% undecided.

Labour MP Rino Tirikatene and the Māori Party's Tākuta Ferris both said they did not support laws like this during Māori Television's Te Tai Tonga election debate on Wednesday evening.

The Green Party's Ariana Paretutanganui-Tamati was the only one of the three to support it.

"I believe people should have the choice, I have strong reservations about that though in terms of the support systems around palliative care," she said.

"I've talked to my parents and I've talked to a number of people and it's their will to have that choice and, if they are suffering, that they actually want to do that. So, I'm being swayed by them."

Ferris said the Māori Party's view was that the time people left this earth was not for them to decide.

"At the end of the day, Ko tō mātou kōrero e mea atu nei, ko te hunga mate ki te hunga mate, ko te hunga ora ki te hunga ora," he said.

Indigenous come off second best

"The advice and the experience internationally across other indigenous countries is that the indigenous, the poor and the disabled come off second best. So we're not for allowing that for our people."

Asked if he was alarmed by the number supporting the legislation, Rino Tirikatene said he was.

"In a way, I think I am because it shows I believe that there hasn't been a good information campaign on what this referenda is really about and the details of the legislation.

"My concern has always been around the coercion of vulnerable kaumātua, all of those sorts of situations that may arise through this legislation, and clearly I just cannot contemplate ever being able to. We treasure our kaumātua, all our loved ones," he said.

"I believe there needs to be more resourcing into palliative care to ensure that we have greater awhi at that time."

The Māori Television Curia Market Research poll of Te Tai Tonga was conducted between October 4-5, with a total of 500 voters surveyed.  Polling was by landline and mobile with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 per cent.