Coroner service to leave Taranaki

By Tema Hemi

Taranaki tribe Ngāti Ruanui are shocked to learn that Taranaki Coronial services are being moved out of the region as the Ministry of Justice ends the current contract. 

Iwi representatives say it is a blatant disregard for tikanga Māori by the ministry. 

Ngāti Ruanui say the prospect of sending their dead to coroners in other regions is distressing. 

Kaiarataki of the Ngāti Ruanui Trust, Debbie Ngarewa Packer says, "Should we be caught up in a sudden death episode- which a lot of our whānau have had first-hand experience in- we will not have any certainty of where the services will be provided."

A local funeral director says the change is part of a shift that funeral directors across the country are facing.

Funeral director of Hardings Funeral Service in Hawera, Kelly Judkins says, "Reinstate our coronial services back to Taranaki, back to Gisborne.  I hear that Nelson is also trying hard to protect their services.  If you think, that's a six hour round trip from Nelson to Christchurch, and they're currently performing 100 or so autopsies per year so that's a lot of service going out of their district as well."

Packer says, "It's really important in all aspects of well-being that we allow the grieving to happen in a way that empowers the whānau and during sudden death it's more atrocious because there is so much that you're disempowered from.  Our first concern is that there has been absolutely no engagment within the takiwa, the province of Taranaki, so it's come as a huge surprise."

The ministry says that it started looking outside for service providers when the District Health Board did not apply for the contract.

Te Kāea contacted the DHB today to see why it had not applied to renew services, but is yet to receive a response.

The ministry will make a call on where coronial services will be provided on September 1.