July 15, 2022
Tough call on body shift
The Health Ministry’s deputy director general Māori says there’s more to the case of a man’s body being taken from an urupa at Mahurangi down to Rotorua than has come out so far.
Whānau of Matiu Sullivan is asking why the ministry issued an exhumation license to his partner of three years, allowing her to dig up his tupapaku from the whānau urupa without his mother and other relatives being informed.
John Whaanga says the guidelines require the consent of kin, but the ministry is required to consider every application on its own merits.
He says he can’t comment on the specifics of the Sullivan case, but family relationships can be complicated.
“The relationships over time, where people may be raised or where they may be connected to biologically versus where they may have been raised so I think there is a broader canvas of whānau associated with this particular person that I’m not sure has the opportunity to talk about their view of things,” he says.
John Whaanga says so far there have been 16 exhumation orders this year, including four where whanau wanted to move the body from a cemetery to an urupa, one where the body had been buried illegally, and one which was moved because of the flooding risk in the cemetery.