Hone Harawira lambasts ’racist’ hospital decision

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Hone Harawira says the decision to stop a woman from staying with her terminally ill husband while being cared for at Waikato Hospital and threatening her with a tresspass notice was racially motivated.

It was the middle of last night when former Mana Party leader Hone Harawira received a call from Denise Perkins.

He said she was in tears after being barred from staying by her husband's side at Waikato Hospital.

Mrs Perkins does contract work for Waikato DHB and wanted to spend the night with her husband Carl in his shared ward the night before his surgery for bowel cancer.

She could not be reached for comment today but Mr Harawira, a family friend, said she was told to leave.

"Somebody turned up with security guards and said if you don't leave now we're going to tresspass her."

After talking to Mrs Perkins, Mr Harawira got in touch with the registered nurse in charge of the ward.

"She said 'oh no no she's in the lounge' I said she's not in the lounge by choice she's in there because you made her leave the ward."

"For them to be so ignorant of tikanga Māori speaks volumes for the racism that is inherent in that hospital."

A kaitiaki or health liaison for Māori whānau also tried to help Denise stay in her husband's ward but was ignored.

Waikato DHB interim chief executive Derek Wright said claims the incident was fuelled by racism were completely untrue.

He apologised for the stress brought on to Mrs Perkins - and said security guards were called because the situation became heated.

"I think potentially this could have been handled differently from both ends - from both their end and our end."

Mr Wright said hospital staff were under immense pressure and ward space was at a premium.

Mrs Perkins' husband was moved from a single ward to a shared ward because another patient needed a single room so they could be in isolation.

He said it was not hospital policy to allow guest to stay in shared wards.

"Although, I'm not saying it's never happened - but it just becomes a logistical issue."

Carl has since been moved back to a single room.

Mr Harawira said someone needed to be held accountable for the incident.

"There needs to be somebody stepping up and and making a very clear statement that this is unacceptable practice and somebody should pay for it."

Mr Wright encouraged Mrs Perkins to make a formal complaint so an investigation into the incident could begin.

"Once we've talked to the staff, once we've talked to the relatives, once we've actually looked at what's happened, we'll then look at what changes we might to need to make as well."

No timeframe was given by Mr Wright on how long the investigation might take.