Reconnecting Māori to traditional EOL customs

maori eol care Aug 11, 2021

A key part of providing a soul-based approach to nonmedical care for people at the end of life, is the ability to draw on their own cultural context, spiritual beliefs and relationship to landscape and nature.

But for patient and carer alike, a dilemma arises from a sense of loss and dislocation from one's own cultural background and landscape.

Here in New Zealand, a number of distinguished people have working on reconnecting Māori to Māori customs and traditions at the end of life.  Dr. Tess Moeke-Maxwell (Ngāi Tai, Ngāti Porou), is lead researcher on Pae Herenga, which was a three year study on traditional Māori end of life care customs and contemporary adaptations.

Tess, her fellow colleagues, and kaumātua including the late Rawiri Wharemate, helped over sixty whānau, rongoā practitioners, tohunga (spiritual practitioners) and Māori health professionals tell their pūrākau (story) as their koha (gift) to support other whānau who are in need of this information, and the health professionals who support them.

This is wonderful work and Tess took time out to talk to me about it. Tess talks about identity, dislocation from traditional customs and how we have to prepare our whānau and our health professionals for getting things right so we can all care better for family and individuals at the end of life.

We discuss the Pei Herenga study, its genesis and the inspiring website that is a stunning outcome of the work done by so many.

Te Ipu Aronui celebrates traditional methods of nurturing and caring, and the leadership that unites and strengthens whānau. The website also celebrates the inspiring ways that whānau adapt their tikanga (customs) to respond to their cultural preferences and needs.

These resources help families help those that they love.

Our conversation is available here, on the Centre for Nature Connection YouTube channel and on our podcast. I look forward to Tess joining me again for future episodes, to delve more deeply into the way we care for kaumātua before and after death.



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