Whanau gain space to mourn
Newly renovated mortuary openedKELSEY FLETCHER
Doug Edwards feels at ease in the Palmerston North Hospital mortuary.
And so he should, after driving a three-month major upgrade project that will better support families through their grieving process.
The MidCentral District Health Board Maori health adviser said extra stress had been put on family members by the lack of space to mourn their loved ones.
"At the time I arrived... the only whanau viewing room was the smaller one and one of the things we realised was that we didn't have a facility that enhanced and encompassed the wellbeing of whanau and the deceased," he said.
"In our Maori way we weren't offering it the tribute it deserved.
"The need was driven because there was not enough space and some of the protocols going on were not sitting in with our tikanga - it wasn't culturally right for Maori and culturally right for all whanau from ethnic groups, which was when the journey really commenced."
The newly renovated mortuary was opened this week and boasts a renovated viewing room and a large whanau room, called Atamira Ahuru, which gives families an area to meet and have private time with their deceased.
"The small room has been redeveloped and reconstructed with a proper viewing window where the deceased can go in and whanau can look from the outside in, and that was a call from the mortuary technician," he said.
"The other room was a storage room firstly and it was changed to a whanau waiting room." Edwards said whanau from as far away as Whanganui, Hawke's Bay and Gisborne brought their deceased to MidCentral's mortuary services.
About 10 deceased could go through the mortuary every week.
"We started off with a small waiting room and at the max it would cater for three family members, and it was also used for a police viewing," he said.
"You can imagine how our whanau come, in big groups, and you have to look at what happens to the rest of the whanau."
Edwards said the project was a collective effort but he was really pleased with the way it had turned out.
"Culturally it's fitting, the space was the big issue and the warmth and receptiveness of the room enhances that welcome for families," he said. "The wairua [spirit] is much better, family will feel quite comfortable coming here."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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