Coroner Gordon Matenga must resign

Steve Gray reports

The coroner who declined a full inquest into the suicide of a gay soldier is a Mormon church elder who attacked same-sex marriage in a submission to Parliament, saying it was an unnecessary “social experiment”. Gordon Matenga put the submission before MPs just three months before declining to open an inquest into the death of Corporal Douglas Hughes, 26, who took his own life in Afghanistan. His submission brought a carefully worded rebuke from Attorney-General Chris Finlayson on the involvement of the judiciary in political issues. Mr Finlayson said judges and coroners could make submissions “in appropriate circumstances” on well-established technical legal issues. Mr Matenga’s refusal of the inquest – made public last Friday – also came with a broader order suppressing all details relating to the corporal’s death including the Defence Force court of inquiry report. The Defence Force has now refused to comment on any of the details of the case, saying Mr Matenga’s suppression order means it is bound to silence.

So it turns out that Coroner Gordon Matenga is far from a neutral party in this matter.  He  made a written submission to the Select Committee on the Marriage Amendment Bill  

My name is Gordon Matenga. I am 49 years old and live in Hamilton. I have been
married for 26 years and have four children and two grand children. I am making this
submission in opposition to the proposed Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment
Bill (“the Bill”). I am opposed to the Bill for the following reasons:

1. The purpose of Marriage
One of the principal purposes of marriage is for the purpose of bringing a man and a
woman together for the purpose of forging a loving bond with the intention of having
children, and thereby forming the basic unit of our society, a family. Together, a man and
a woman become parents to their children and responsible for raising their family within
the community.

2. A man and a woman are required for procreation
A man and a woman are required to produce children. There is no other way. Same sex
couples cannot, without intervention produce a child. Therefore, to allow a couple of the
same sex to marry would serve no useful purpose as it relates to children.

(read the full submission here – PDF)

Do we expect our Coroners to colour their decisions with their own political and religious outlook, or do we expect them to declare the cause of death and make possible recommendations free from their own religious or  political outlook?

Matenga is a committed senior Mormon and holds/has held the positions of Temple View Stake Patriarch / Temple Sealer at the Church of Latter Day Saints.  He was appointed Coroner by Attorney-General Michael Cullen in 2007.

If his religious views are getting in the way of being able to act as a Coroner on our behalf when the person involved is known to be gay, he can no longer continue to hold that position.

What if a child dies, but it was a child raised by a gay couple?  How will he deal with it then?

Matenga’s views are perfectly valid as a private individual, but they have no place in the Coronial Services.

He must step down now.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story.  And when he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet.   Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet, and as a result he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist that takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him.  But you can’t ignore him.

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