Arohanui - an insight into hospice

From Te Ahi Kaa, 6:06 pm on 5 June 2016

Every artwork on the walls of Arohanui Hospice tells a story of personal loss. Each piece – including a small woven kakahu (cloak) from Aunty Mere who lost her husband Brian and a carved tewhatewha (club weapon) donated by the Raureti-Cooper whanau – is also a token of appreciation for Arohanui's 25 years of care.

Justine Murray meets Dennis Emery – Kaitakawaenga Māori (Māori liaison officer) at Arohanui, Dr Simon Allan – the Director of Palliative Care at Arohanui, and Diane Koti – who is researching the Māori experience of palliative care and hopes to set up her own end-of-life care facility.

The Tewhatewha - Te Mauri Tau - Maintain the life force, donated by the Raureti-Cooper whanau.

The Tewhatewha (Te Mauri Tau - 'Maintain the life force') donated by the Raureti-Cooper whanau Photo: RNZ/Justine Murray

Dennis Emery’s job is varied and includes promoting the hospice’s services to the wider community and maintaining close links with the local iwi, hapu and the 21 marae in the Manawatu, Tararua and Rangitikei region.

The number of Māori who use the hospice service fluctuates. Dennis sees himself as the ‘go-between’ for Māori families, medical staff and clinicians.

'When they come here, it’s for the reason that our kuia and koroua are not well. It’s coming to the position that time is near, and it’s not an easy time' - Dennis Emery

Dennis Emery, Kaitakawaenga Māori at Arohanui Hospice

Dennis Emery Photo: RNZ/Justine Murray

Dr Simon Allen

Dr Simon Allen Photo: Arohanui Hospice

Dr Simon Allan moved to the Manawatu from Scotland in 1989 and has been at Arohanui from the start – originally as an oncologist and now as the Director of Palliative Care. In 2015 he was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to palliative care.

It takes around 600 volunteers to successfully run Arohanui Hospice.

‘Nursing care is the heart (of the hospice). To listen, to care for, and to hear in the small hours of the night when people are vulnerable, troubled, possibly incontinent and very embarrassed, those nurses are special people that allow people to feel cared for and safe, despite the indignities that can occur at the end of life. Bless them’ - Dr Simon Allan

Arohanui Hospice offers respite care, inpatient and outpatient services, counselling and education. It is a free service to anyone, and while Arohanui receives some assistance from the government, they plan their own fundraising initiatives.  

The hospice also runs second-hand shops in Levin, Otaki and Palmerston North. This year the late Marie Williams – a former inpatient – bequeathed her second-hand bookshop.

Doctoral student, Diane Koti

Diane Koti Photo: RNZ/Justine Murray

Diane Koti hopes to finish her doctorate on the Māori experience of palliative care this year. Diane’s dream is to open an end of life care facility for Māori in Ngāti Pōrou (Gisborne area).

Diane’s 85 year old grandmother Hinetewhiu Brooking was an outpatient at Cranford Hospice, where she received care for terminal cancer.

‘That was my first encounter in a sense of an immediate whanau member and watching the process of dying, and it stuck with me and my whanau… I really appreciate the love and care that was given’ - Diane Koti

When it came time to do a Master’s Degree, Diane worked in partnership with Cranford Hospice. '[A hospice is] a place to die in your final days, but it’s much more than that, as we found out as a whanau', she says.