8 Jun 2015

Whanau share end-of-life stories

8:43 pm on 8 June 2015

Whānau caring for kaumatua at the end of their lives will share their stories with students to help them better understand Māori tikanga [customs] around dying.

Eight whanau have created short videos of their experiences with dying, death or bereavement, which will be used as a teaching resource for students at the University of Auckland's School of Nursing.

The videos will also be available to palliative care providers and the wider healthcare community.

The stories are part of a research project at the university, led by Dr Lisa Williams and co-researchers, Dr Tess Moeke-Maxwell and Dr Stella Black, along with Professor Merryn Gott and Tess Morgan.

Dr Tess Moeke-Maxwell, of Ngai Tai, said the eight families who were involved with creating the videos told their stories during a three-day wānanga [workshop].

There they recorded their voices and chose photographs for their videos, which were then all complied onto a DVD.

She said using this type of resource would be a first.

"Traditionally we publish in journals or we go to conferences and often this escapes the awareness of the fledgling nurse or the fledgling doctor or of whanau themselves," she said.

Dr Moeke-Maxwell said the stories were a unique way of giving students a greater understanding of Māori culture and what is important to tangata whenua as they prepare for death.

There remained a lot of ignorance in New Zealand about Māori cultural values and tikanga, especially when it related to the end of tāngata whenua's lives, she said.

"Why this is so important is that we have a lot of students who really have little idea about Māori culture and the types of things that provide meaning for us, that might influence what we need at the end of our lives."

By teaching nurses about these things, it would better help the level of care they provide for kaumatua and their whānau, she said.

She thanked the whānau who were involved in the project for stepping forward and putting themselves on the line.

"Often when we do research it is confidential and with this digital storytelling it is not.

"Real families step forward, they tell real stories and provide real photographs, and I think that is incredibly generous of them.

"There's something about the truth of what they are sharing with us that makes the learning objectives so much more valuable and I just wanted to mihi to those whānau."

The storytelling resource will be launched at the inaugural Palliative and End of Life Care Conference at the University of Auckland's Tamaki Campus on June 25.