Healing our Spirits

Gawuwi gamarda Healing Our Spirits Worldwide.

We met on the country of the Cadigal peoples of the Eora Nation. The conference brought together Indigenous peoples from around the world to gather and celebrate the power of our knowledge and our wisdom, to share our stories, truths, histories with pride and purpose and to embrace spirit.

Elder from Cadigal peoples of the Eora Nation

Ngalya nangari nura Cadigalmirung

I (Teah) received a Ngā Pae o Te Maramatanga Conference Attendance grant that subsidised the costs along with support of Te Rōpū Whāriki, Massey University.

In November 2018 our whānau travelled to attend the Eighth Gathering of Healing Our Spirits Worldwide at the Sydney International Convention Centre, 26-29 November, 2018.

I learnt that Indigenous peoples have the greatest insight into systemic change, discrimination and racism, as our worlds are significantly dominated by a colonial agenda.

We learnt that historically the work of Indigenous peoples has been to fight against the continued violent acts of colonisation.

Efforts need to shift where our Pākehā allies are to do the work of racism, anti-oppression and discrimination – talking, educating and working with their own. This would then free us up to do the work of Indigenous knowledge, knowing and understanding.

It was a humbling experience and a privilege to share space with our brothers and sisters, aunties and uncles of the world.

We learnt that healing is about healing self, no one else can do this work for you.

To do the work of healing requires an exploration of self , relationship and connection – what does it mean to be part of the universe, stars, heavens, lands, water, trees, plants and animals.

For many peoples and nations, this means to not only connect with people but identify, name and live your constellations, winds, currents, waterways and land marks.

We learnt that healers are facilitators of a healing process, windows and doorways to realms and consciousness.

We learnt that one important part process of healing, particularly the genocide Indigenous peoples have faced over generations is provide a safe and culturally grounded space to listen to story, to bear witness, allow people to yarn and to speak, sing and chant their own words.

While in Sydney we attended two conferences Healing our Spirits Worldwide and Indigenous Allied Health Health Forum and Student Challenge. We presented at both a workshop titled ‘Indigenous Gaze: Value in Worldview’.

Teah being interviewed for Ngaarda Indigenous Peoples Radio Station

It was about the exploration of our own worldview and how this can bring our assumptions and preconceptions to light.

Utilising object, art and image we explored the impacts of colonisation on the Indigenous gaze. Covering topic areas of colonisation & health, Māori health, creative methodologies and an Indigenous health literacy.

In the presentation, we wanted to engage with the audience in a way that gave meaning beyond words and speech. Drawing on my artistic style, I painted a picture while presenting. I began with an abstract image that appeared visually dislocated, fluid, and non-complementary to the themes on which I was presenting; however, this process was purposeful. I wanted the audience to strive to make sense of the image – to try and “connect.”

I wanted people to experience confusion and misperception, mirroring parts of my reflective, emotional, and practical responses to the kaupapa Māori journey. Each participant reacted differently to the process, some shared stories of loved ones that had passed, stories of their own journeys, tears, successes and struggles.

Each story and comment shone light on the depth, breadth and connection they felt to the revelation the creative process took them on. At the end of the presentation we gifted taonga to each other, shared stories of our ancestors and were honoured to receive thanks and praise.

Here some feedback from our workshop


Published by Tākuta Teah

Indigenous woman, partner, māmā, sister, daughter, aunty, artist, story catcher/teller, researcher, evaluator and academic. I draw on these identities to express, connect and articulate kotahitanga, mana motuhake and aroha.

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