Monstrous comments from Te Ururoa Flavell. From the NZ Herald:
A Maori Party MP has suggested that children who take their own lives should be condemned rather than have their life celebrated - a call slammed as "absolutely disgusting" by a mother whose child took his life.
In a controversial column in Rotorua's Daily Post newspaper, Waiariki MP Te Ururoa Flavell suggested a "very hard stand" should be made on suicide.
"If a child commits suicide, let us consider not celebrating their lives on our marae; perhaps bury them at the entrance of the cemetery so their deaths will be condemned by the people," he wrote.
"In doing these things, it demonstrates the depth of disgust the people have with this. Yes it is a hard stance, but what else can we do?"
Suicide should be condemned, but Te Ururoa’s suggestion will only compound the pain suicides causes. Punishing the family will not, repeat will not, deter suicide. Suicide is a selfish choice, and by definition, a choice made by the victim and inflicted by the victim. Very rarely do assisted suicides occur, but when they do the response from our criminal justice system is adequate. There is no need to assault the families with cultural shame.
Burying suicide victims at the entrance of the urupa will cause massive shame for the whanau and that shame will continue throughout numerous generations. Denying suicide victims tangi, which was another one of Te Ururoa’s suggestions, will prevent whanau from finding closure and compound the emotional trauma.
Te Ururoa is really scrapping the bottom of the barrel. Yes, no one likes suicide and everyone wants to respond. But this sort of response will not feature in the minds of potential suicide victims. Suicide victims think of the here and now, their ability to foresee consequences or feel and demonstrate empathy is limited.
Politically speaking, Te Ururoa may be reflecting popular opinion. The suggestion that suicide victims not receive tangi is common. There is a desire to shame the family. I am unsure whether or not this is truly in line with tikanga Maori or a remnant of the sort of Christian thinking that has influenced Maori practise. I am not qualified to say.
We need representatives with fresh minds, not representatives recycling poor ideas from a time gone by.