Assisted dying

From 7 November 2021 assisted dying will be legal in Aotearoa, New Zealand. This means that a person with a terminal illness, who meets strict eligibility criteria, can request medication to end their life.

We acknowledge and respect an individual's right to choose and will continue to support anyone in our community regardless of their views, values or personal wishes.

As an organisation, however, Harbour Hospice conscientiously objects to administering medication to end someone's life and remains aligned with the hospice philosophy to neither hasten nor postpone death.

Regardless of your views or wishes, we are here for you and your whānau.

Commonly asked questions

We appreciate that patients and their families may wish to discuss assisted dying. Our priority is to work alongside every patient to gain a deeper understanding of their suffering and work through the many ways we’re able to alleviate troubling symptoms.

Anyone who requests specific information about assisted dying will be connected to the Support and Consultation for End of Life in New Zealand group (SCENZ), established by the Ministry of Health.

If you choose to make a request for assisted dying, our care team will refer you to SCENZ who will then guide you on next steps. It is our legal obligation to pass on this information to anyone who requests assisted dying. While we will not administer assisted dying medication, our support teams will continue to be there for families to guide them through their grief and loss.
We will continue to uphold the Hospice philosophy “to neither hasten nor postpone death”, therefore assisted dying medication will not be administered at any of our Hospice sites. However, you can remain in our service irrespective of your choice and our specialist team will work positively to transfer care to your authorised assisted dying physician.
You can choose where you want to be when assisted dying medication is administered (i.e. hospital or home), but Hospice staff will not be able to be present during the procedure. 
Family members, whānau and welfare guardians do not have any power to make decisions on your behalf. We do encourage you, however, to discuss this with family, whānau, friends and counsellors. 

There is always something than can be done. Palliative care is given right up until the very moment a person dies, and beyond, with ongoing support for family and whānau. Our specialist care team helps people manage pain and other distressing symptoms, by supporting a person's physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing, which can improve quality of life.

To learn more about the End of Life Choice Act and the introduction of assisted dying in New Zealand, click here to read official information from the Ministry of Health.

Palliative care is active treatment

Receiving Hospice care does not mean doing nothing, or ‘giving up’. Pain control continues to the end, alongside emotional, spiritual and social wellbeing. 

Good pain relief improves quality of life

Physical, emotional and spiritual pain can be equally upsetting. Hospice works to understand your 'pain', so you can continue to enjoy life in the way that's most important to you.

Giving someone a syringe driver is not assisted dying 

Syringe drivers administer medication in a strictly monitored and safe way to manage distressing symptoms.

It's normal to stop eating and drinking close to death 

We appreciate how difficult it can be seeing someone you love refuse food or water, however this is normal as the body slows down and prepares for death.

* Palliative care, as defined by the World Health Organisation, “intends neither to hasten nor postpone death”. This philosophy is a cornerstone of hospice care in New Zealand. Palliative care is holistic – physical, emotional, spiritual, social and cultural needs are all valued equally.