A bill requiring coroners to consider tikanga Māori when determining who can view, touch or remain near tūpāpaku passed its first reading in Parliament last night.

In a statement, Justice Minister Andrew Little says the Coroners (Access to Body of Dead Person) Amendment Bill aims to improve cultural considerations.

“Whānau can currently request a viewing or remain with or near their loved one while the tūpāpaku is in the coroner’s custody.

“Sudden deaths can be emotionally difficult, especially when the family then has to navigate the coronial process. The coroners are sensitive to this fact and work hard to return the tūpāpaku to their family as soon as possible.

 “In practice, the coroner already considers cultural and spiritual beliefs when making decisions about the access to dead bodies and approaches each request on a case-by-case basis.

“The amendment in this Bill legally defines that the coroner must consider tikanga Māori and the expectations of other cultures when determining whether someone should be allowed to remain with the tūpāpaku.”

The bill will now be considered by the Māori Affairs Select Committee.