Dying and death are difficult subjects at the best of times and even more so when public resources that are available are not culturally appropriate.

So to help make the subjects easier to deal with, Northland District Health Board has created a new resource to help make it easier for Maori - a carved waka to ease the journey.

"We know through literature and research that the discussions around advance care planning [ACP] are different for Maori and non-Maori, Pacific peoples, migrants, everyone," Northland DHB director of nursing and midwifery Margareth Broodkoorn said.

Northland DHB was tasked by the national ACP co-operative to lead the work with Maori consumers and healthcare workers, to develop culturally appropriate resources which meet the aspirations of Maori patients and whanau.


In 2014, a Northland Maori ACP working group was established and in 2015, the group hosted two co-design hui to consult with consumers and healthcare workers. "We hosted a survey, talked with people and ran two workshops in Whangarei and Kawakawa which brought together clinicians, healthcare workers, whanau and consumers to look at what resources were available and assess how culturally appropriate they were," Ms Broodkoorn said.

As a result "He Waka Kakarauri" - a model to engage Maori in conversations that are important for future health and end of life care needs - was developed. "Based on a waka model, people are encouraged to have conversations about their health, when they are well and when they are sick, dying or have died - that are tika [right], pono [true] and aroha [shared with love], and are held at a time and in an environment that is culturally appropriate to Maori," she said.

The waka was carved by Ned Peita - Takawaenga - Te Poutokomanawa - of NDHB's Maori Health Service Directorate.