Rethinking Death and Dying

11 Rethinking Death and Dying

Photo: The Fare-well Trust

  • Writers
  • Korero

Thinking Brunch 3: Rethinking Death and Dying

Past Event

There’s compelling evidence that preparing for death enables us to live life to the fullest.

It’s the natural and sacred end of life, yet many people don’t acknowledge the realities of death until they have no other choice. However, there’s compelling evidence that preparing for death enables us to live life to the fullest. 

Lynda Hannah, Dr Kiri Edge, Coroner Marcus Elliott (contributors to the new anthology, Death and Dying in New Zealand) and memoirist Pip Desmond (Song for Rosaleen) will examine how societal changes and Māori traditions can help us rethink death and dying.

We’ll explore the benefits of talking openly about death – especially with our family – when we’re still well. We’ll consider how we can approach imminent death differently – giving our dying more agency over their final days – and examine notions of a 'good death' and 'better bereavement’. Kerry Sunderland will facilitate a discussion that’s guaranteed to improve your ‘death literacy’.


Lynda Hannah for NAF websiteLynda Hannah established Aotearoa's first natural funeral company, Living Legacies, in 2001 because she strongly believed that dying shouldn't cost the Earth. She supports and empowers families who are planning and arranging low-cost, family-directed, natural funerals without employing a funeral director. In 2002 she wrote Living Legacies ­– a family funeral handbook for an evergreen world. As well as facilitating funerals she's also a grief counsellor, celebrant, medical herbalist, naturopath, permaculture farmer, beekeeper, musician, and grandmother.

Dr Kiri Edge for NAF websiteDr Kiri Edge is a community researcher and academic currently based in the Māori & Psychology Research Unit, University of Waikato. Kiri completed her doctoral research in 2017, exploring the bereavement pathways of Māori & Pākehā bicultural whānau. Kiri is currently excited by the work of her postdoctoral fellowship, supported by Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga. Kiri’s new research is examining tikanga, values and virtues that can guide happy, healthy and flourishing adult intimate and sexual relationships. Kiri identifies as being bicultural and proudly descends from Ngāti Maniapoto and several clans of Scotland’s west coast. Kiri is also māmā to Mātai, who is ten years old and his badly behaved cat, Buddy.

Marcus Elliott for NAF websiteMarcus Elliott is a coroner based in Christchurch. Before that he was a barrister at Canterbury Chambers practising in civil litigation. He was also on the Christchurch Crown Solicitor’s Prosecution Panel. He was counsel assisting the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission, a member of the Council of the New Zealand Bar Association and a New Zealand Law Society Standards Committee member. He was appointed a coroner in 2015.

Pip Desmond for NAF websitePip Desmond is a Wellington writer, editor, oral historian and former parliamentary press secretary. She is the author of the award-winning Trust: A True Story of Women and Gangs and The War That Never Ended: New Zealand Veterans Remember Korea. Pip has an MA in creative writing and runs communications company 2Write with her husband Pat. They have three children and four beautiful grandchildren. Song for Rosaleen is an intensely personal account of caring for her mother, but the impending global dementia epidemic gives it universal interest.


Kerry Sunderland Thinking BrunchKerry Sunderland is the Nelson Arts Festival Readers and Writers programme coordinator and a part-time creative writing tutor at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology. She is a writer, freelance journalist, magazine editor, film reviewer and radio presenter/producer. She has a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University of Wellington. 

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Sun 21 Oct, 10.30am for brunch, 11am start
60 mins, no interval
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