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Commission commends initiative behind new handbook

Human Rights Commission
Media Release
13 September 2005

Commission commends initiative behind new handbook

The Funeral Directors Association has been commended by the Human Rights Commission for publishing a new handbook on death and dying in different cultures and religions.

Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres will present the Association and the co-publisher, Bridget Williams Books, with a certificate of acknowledgment at the launch of Last Words: Approaches to Death in New Zealand’s Cultures and Faiths in Wellington today.

Mr de Bres said there is an increasing demand for information about different faiths and cultures from organisations and professionals seeking to tailor services and be responsive to an increasingly diverse New Zealand community.

“Last Words is an important addition to this pool of information, not only because of the very specific information it provides about death and dying in a wide variety of faiths and cultures, but also because it includes general essays on facing death, understanding grief, and migrant communities in New Zealand. This makes the book relevant to a much wider audience than just the professionals directly involved in the care of the dying and the bereaved.”

“There is also a comprehensive section on Tikanga Maori. Paratene Ngata’s republished account of the tikanga surrounding the tangi will be most helpful to people wanting to understand what goes on before, during and after a tangi. Three other Maori add their own perspectives on new developments and contemporary issues for Maori, including the emergence of the tele-tangi and continuing challenges for service providers in addressing Maori needs.”

Mr de Bres said the diversity in Maori attitudes to death and dying appropriately illustrated the diversity within all cultures and faiths in contemporary New Zealand, and while the new handbook was an extremely valuable resource it should be used for guidance rather than prescriptions. “Everyone is different, even within different faiths and cultures”.

Mr de Bres said that he hoped other professional associations would follow the example of the Funeral Directors Association in providing information not just in-house for their own members but for a wider public audience to increase public knowledge and understanding.


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