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Coroners Act amended for tikanga Māori and ethnic communities’ values

The Coroners (Access to Body of Dead Person) Amendment Bill passed its third reading in Parliament last night.

“The Bill will ensure tikanga Māori and other ethnic cultural beliefs are considered and respected by our coronial system,” said Justice Minister Andrew Little.

“The Bill strengthens the Coroners Act 2006 focus on cultural considerations. The Bill provides an explicit requirement for coroners to consider cultural considerations when determining who can view, touch, or remain near a tūpāpaku - body of a deceased person.

“I understand this already happens in practice, and is included in guidance for coroners, however, it is not a legislative requirement and this Bill will ensure that cultural beliefs are explicitly considered as a matter of course,” said Andrew Little.

The Coroners (Access to Body of Dead Person) Amendment Bill implements a recommendation of the Māori Affairs Committee Report Inquiry into whānau access to and management of tūpāpaku. It will amend section 26 of the Coroners Act 2006.

“The Bill does not seek to change the current practice of coroners. The work they do is very important and performed to a high standard. The Bill ensures this practice of taking cultural considerations into account is more visible, and concrete, for those who are dealing with what will usually be an unimaginable loss.”

“I would like to thank everyone who has contributed towards helping this Bill come into law, in particular the Māori Affairs Committee as the impetus for this Bill. This Bill has been widely supported and the benefits this Bill will have for all New Zealanders has been widely recognised,” said Andrew Little.