About 11pm last night I received a very distressed call from Denise, the wife of Karl Perkins, leader of the band House of Shem. Karl is in Waikato Hospital for a life-and-death cancer operation.
Denise rang to tell me that she has been at Karl's side for the last couple of days, but that tonight they had kicked her out of the ward and refused to let her stay with him, even threatening to trespass her from the hospital if she didn't immediately comply with their demands. Denise had pleaded with them but they refused to listen. She was at her wits' end, so she rang me.
I spoke to one of the Kaitiaki Maori, who confirmed what had happened to Denise. She said she had been really hurt by what had happened to Denise, and told me it was wrong, and against hospital policy.
I rang the registered nurse in charge of the ward where Karl was a patient, who tried to tell me that Denise was still on the ward (but had been told to stay out in the lounge and not at Karl's bedside).
She then told me she had no authority to let Denise stay with Karl, even though she clearly had the authority to throw her out of the ward, with security personnel standing by.
I tried to ring the duty manager a couple of times but got no answer, so the operator politely allowed me to send her an email and said she would pass it on.
I am bloody disgusted to hear that a Maori woman, a whanau member who is an integral part of the health and wellbeing of a patient at Waikato Hospital, had been treated so badly.
Every person who is in deep pain and suffering has the right to have somebody at their side in the hours leading up to critical surgery. And every Maori has a right under the Treaty of Waitangi, and the policies of the Ministry of Health, to provide care for their whanau, particularly in times of stress.
Kicking Denise out of the ward was ignorant and deeply racist, and somebody's head should roll for the way in which she was treated.
I emailed the Minister of Health, the local MP for Waikato-Tainui and a representative of the Maori King, to let them know what is happening.
I asked for action to be taken to allow Denise to go back to her husband's bedside immediately, or I would take this to the media. I even left my contact details for the duty manager in case they wanted to contact me.
I was not surprised that nobody bothered to call me. The same racists that would treat one of our whanau like that are highly unlikely to bother with another Maori wanting to complain about it.