Karakia launched for all surgical patients


New karakia designed to give comfort to surgical patients

A karakia before surgical procedures has been launched to provide comfort to patients and their whānau.

Rotorua Hospital anaesthetist Dr Arihia Waaka (Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Māhanga) unveiled the karakia at the Aotearoa NZ Anaesthesia Annual Special Meeting in Dunedin earlier this month.

She came up with the concept of the karakia and was able to make it a reality through a grant from the Australia New Zealand College of Anaesthetist’s (ANZCA) Health Equity Projects Fund.

The Karakia Poka was written by New Zealand-based tohunga (expert practitioner) Mark Kopua.

“Karakia is a very prominent part of Māori people’s lives and of my life as well,” Dr Waaka said.

“If I was having surgery, I would be grateful for this sort of tool, and it’s just another way to help whānau be involved in the healing of their family. 

“When I first read it, it brought tears to my eyes, I literally got goosebumps. These composers do amazing work, every single word is very well thought out. We call them kura huna, little treasures within the writing – you can often take one word and write a whole story just about that one word.

She said there was growing understanding of the importance of spirituality in the healing process.

“We work in healing but it’s not just about the physical. If your environment’s not healthy you’re more likely physically to be unhealthy, and I think the mainstream is starting to catch on that if you’re not spiritually healthy, that can manifest in physical ways. 

“There’s been some rehabilitation programs that have looked at people’s outlooks and how positivity can influence their outcomes – we can’t really explain that right now. But Indigenous cultures have always recognised that there is a link between happiness, and positive outcomes.”

The karakia, in both English and te reo Māori, can be downloaded from the ANZCA website for use at hospital anaesthesia departments across New Zealand. It is designed to be recited by patients and their families before an operation.

A Maori woman stands at a lectern. She is smiling. The words to a karakia are on a big screen behind her.

Dr Arihia Waaka at the karakia launch. Photo/ANZCA