I had the greatest privilege and pleasure of attending the Healing our Spirit Worldwide conference. The Ninth Gathering, 11–15 September 2023, Vancouver, BC Canada.

The abstracts that I presented at the conference were greeted with such emotions and I was touched to the core.

I felt honoured but somewhat in awe of the many responses and love that greeted me within the first five minutes of my entering the conference until my steps faded at the closing of the conference. I was asked to participate in numerous photo opportunities. I felt very much like a celebrity and was quite overwhelmed at the range of emotions that welled within my puku over the Healing Our Spirit Worldwide Conference week. Together we shared tears, laughter, karakia, kisses and precious pieces of memories from the past, present and future.

Unexpectedly, I moved into roles identified by many over this year and reinforced at this conference:

  • Ambassador representing the Māori Lived Experience voice.
  • Mental Health Warrior,
  • Queen of Ngāpuhi
  • Daughter o te Tino Rangatira (Highest of Chief)
  • Healer/Tohunga
  • Commissioner Tui

The sights, sounds and smells of Vancouver and its people were a wonderous sight.

Each day was a new experience. The sea planes, the vast high mountains, my visual contemplations of the wildlife before civilization in the rivers, mountains, and seas with the first nations people wondering upon their whenua unbounded and opened my vision of the past.

There was a lot of pain and loss in the faces of the Indigenous people, that were heard in their presentations, through the sharing of one-on-one kōrero, in their song and in the beating of their drums.

I noticed youth of many of the cultural groupings led much of the waiata and haka performances. I even saw wāhine carrying their babies on a front harness and feeding their babies while performing. This was beautiful to see.

To see first nations people wearing a full black bear fur ensemble knowing they would have used every part of the bear upon killing for food and traditional practices gave knowledge to their honouring that animal in every which way.

Many of the costumes worn by the first nations people was expressive in both ornaments attached and colouring.

The healers used magnificent bald eagle feathers, traditional song, and drums, and spent up to half an hour if not more on each healing, being attentive on the person in front of them.

The experience was emotional and seemed to open every pore within my wairua, tinana and hinengaro. The residual of the experience stayed longer than expected. As a healer myself, I am aware of inner toll it can take on the healer him or herself. My thoughts went out to their work as it is so important and can make such a difference to the person receiving this wonderful healing attention.

The convention centre was huge, with three to four levels with approximately three speaking sessions in each room so I would suggest there were over fifty rooms going at one time. I am sure I am underestimating this, but I am sure there were so many amazing speakers that it was impossible to attend everyone’s. Some rooms had numerous people in attendance while other rooms had ten people in attendance. So, I am saying the largeness of people in attendance, the hugeness of the building itself and the number of presentations each hour made the conference a busy place to be.

Happiness, contentment, and wonder filled my soul. I grabbed each memory hungrily so my time in this beautiful whenua of Canada would remain forever in my heart.

My final kaupapa of my visit here in Vancouver took me to Vancouver Island in which, my fundraising of my kakahu/korowai that I had made to assist the gathering of pūtea so I could attend the Healing Our Spirit Worldwide Conference in Canada. This korowai was donated by me, and the Whakaoranga Whānau AOD Charitable Trust (WOW) Kaikohe New Zealand, gifted this onto the Indigenous Rehabilitation Facility, Tsow-Tun-Le-Lum, Vancouver Island, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The emotions of passing forward the korowai “Te Ōrokohanga o Te Ao” to kaimahi Hazel and Merrin rocked my tinana physically and spiritually.

I felt like I was leaving my child and I wanted to make sure she was safe when I left her. I conveyed the importance that she is alive, to use her whenever you feel the need. Do not put her in a cupboard. She wants to be part of and in life.

The beautiful first nations wāhine who now have her will send me some photos of them dancing in her. I look forward to receiving and seeing those photos.

That night we stayed on the First Nations Reservation on Vancouver Island. We drove through this large community, and nothing stood out to me saying that this was whenua belonging to them the First Nations people. The homes were very westernised, which I put down to the effects of colonisation.

I am so grateful for the seen and unseen who were with me throughout these experiences. I am so grateful for the love and many lifelong friends who I can call whānau. I am thankful to all who have carried me through this amazing journey.

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you,

Tui Taurua