Bill to change whānau access to tūpāpaku passes third reading

By Jessica Tyson

The Coroners 'Access to Body of Dead Person' Amendment Bill, to change whānau access to tūpāpaku, passed its third reading in parliament last night.

The bill provides a requirement for coroners to consider cultural considerations when determining who can view, touch, or remain near a tūpāpaku - body of a deceased person, says Justice Minister Andrew Little.

“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,” says Little.  

The bill implements recommendations by the Māori Affairs Committee’s report into the management of and whanau access to tūpāpaku.

It will also amend section 26 of the Coroners Act 2006 focus on cultural considerations.

 “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, says the minister.

“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.”