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  • Published on:
    Words/Nga Kupu
    • Ben V Gray, Associate Professor University of Otago Wellington

    Words/Nga Kupu*
    The suggestion of a “Words” column focussing particularly on words from a non-western ethical tradition is great. We are journeying through perilous waters and will need to adapt our ethical framework to the new reality. A value of diversity is that we can draw on concepts from other traditions. Of course, a “Word” in a language you do not speak is of no use. The word is part of a language, which is the embodiment of a culture, and ethics is inevitably culture bound. Even words shared between cultures do not necessarily share exact meanings. A consideration of Justice within the bioethical community culture would be incomplete without reference to Rawls. A consideration of Justice within a Māori community would be centred around Te Tiriti o Waitangi/ The Treaty of Waitangi(1). A simple translation is not enough. The definition of Whakawhanaungatanga is a good starting place, but more depth is needed. It is embedded in a Māori concept of health(2), and the richness of the concepts cannot be appreciated without appreciating the context in which it is used. Whilst it is a Māori word it is now also a New Zealand word. A whole generation of medical students have been taught Māori concepts of health, including Whakawhanaungatanga, significantly spearheaded by the work of Pitama and Lacey(3). Parry as a 5th year student wrote a heart-warming case study that illustrated the value of using these concepts(4). The New Zealand ethical landscape is an example of t...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.

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