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Matapihi kuia urges whanau to talk

Ataraita Ngatai of Matapihi says people need to talk with their whanau about advance care planning.

As Advance Care Planning Day approaches, one well-known kuia is encouraging people to start the conversation with their whānau about their plans and wishes.

Ataraita Ngatai, from Matapihi, who is well-known and respected within her local community, says people should not shy away from talking about difficult topics.

Advance care planning is the process of thinking about, talking about, and planning for future healthcare and end-of-life care. It is about identifying what matters to the person concerned. Advance Care Planning Day is celebrated on Friday, April 5.

Ataraita says starting the conversation is the first step and the keen gardener says you should do so in as relaxed a way as possible, but recognise too that whānau dynamics differ and these differences deserve respect.

“My garden has been a source of bounty for many years,” says Ataraita smiling.

“I was in the garden one day with our whānau and I just started talking about which of them should look after different sections of the garden when I was no longer around. It can be as simple as that and from there you’ve introduced the conversation. I think it’s important to do so in a relaxed way.

“Death is not something people want to talk about. Life is sweet; life is good as long as you’re healthy. It’s only when your health begins to break down that you realise you are mortal.

“And you need to think about other things, arrangements to be made. It’s about getting things in order. It makes things easier for everyone concerned, your carers and those left behind.”

Ataraita likened having the conversation to entering a new room.

“You might do it slowly at first but once you open that door it can be a very worthwhile place to be. We used the Advance Care Plan document as a checklist and shared ideas, our spiritual values, our respect for life……yes, starting the conversation is the first step.

“He whakatauaki:

Mà te whakaatu ka mohio Through discussion cometh understanding

Mà te mòhio,kà màrama Through understanding cometh light

Mà te màrama, ka màtau Through light cometh wisdom

Mà te màtau, ka ora Through wisdom cometh everlasting life

“You know Enoka (Ataraita’s husband) and I are grateful that we still cast a shadow on Papatùànuku (mother earth). Life is for living,” she says.

Bay of Plenty District Health Board Advance Care Planning Project Manager Lee Walters says new discoveries frequently awaited families who talked about Advance Care Planning.

“People often learn something new about each other that they never would have known without the conversation, we often assume that they will know. Let’s talk today. How can Advance Care Planning help you?”

For hard copies of My Advance Care Plan, or for assistance with them email advancecare.planning@bopdhb.govt.nz or call Advance Care Planning Project Manager Lee Walters on 027 271 4539.

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