Indigenous Connections

Healing Our Spirit Worldwide - The Seventh Gathering.  

Every four years, at Healing Our Spirit Worldwide Gatherings, indigenous people from around the globe gather to share our stories, experiences and wisdom. We laugh, smile and cry together as we learn from and support each other in our collective journey towards health and wellbeing.  In November 2015 Te Rau Matatini hosted The Seventh Gathering in Kirikiriroa, Hamilton on behalf of Aotearoa New Zealand.  This was a huge privilege for our organisation and an opportunity to showcase our many strengths and abilities as an organisation, a country and as Māori.


The 2015 Gathering took a change of direction to that of previous Gatherings with the theme moving from one of addressing grievances to one of Mauri Ora, or well-being from a Māori perspective (health of the soul, mind, body and spirit), and integral to this was healing the spirit. The Gathering had 1,100 registered attendees from12 countries, featured 23 keynote speakers and 265 other presenters and achieved substantial coverage through mainstream and social media.


2015 brought indigenous people together for The Seventh Gathering with the theme of Mauri Ora meaning life force, a positive state of being, a continuous energy flow, life, good health and vitality. Mauri Ora was about the health and wellbeing of indigenous communities, flourishing in positive directions.


We created a comprehensive programme to make sure everyone who attended could easily contribute their ideas and knowledge.  We wanted our manuhiri (visitors) to feel comfortable:
•    sharing initiatives, programmes and solutions
•    connecting and learning from each other as indigenous people
•    sharing strengths, hope and wisdom
•    celebrating and expressing cultural and spiritual practices.


The Seventh Gathering Relationships and Alliances 

Our sponsors made it all possible. Our deep gratitude goes to the Ministry of Health, First Nations Health Authority, Te Rūnanga o KirikiriroaHamilton City Council and Te Puni Kōkiri.  Our journey to Kirikiriroa, Hamilton, was made easier with their investment and commitment.


At a local level The Gathering gave the Aotearoa New Zealand organisers a unique opportunity to formally connect with three of the largest and most influential Māori organisations in Aotearoa New Zealand, all Waikato-based:
•    Te Hakakitenga o Waikato (Te Kīngitanga The Māori King Movement)
•    Te Wānanga o Aotearoa (the second-largest tertiary institution in Aotearoa and named tenth on the Deloitte 2016 top 10 Māori business  lists)
•    The tangata whenua tribal home people belong to that land being holders of the mana whenua tribal territorial rights – the iwi tribe Waikato Tainui (also named second on the Deloitte 2016 top          10 Māori business list.)


Like Te Rau Matatini, these three organisations are kaupapa Māori driven - their key stakeholders are whānau and their communities. Each organisation played a significant supporting and cultural role in making The Gathering so successful.


Te Wānanga o Aotearoa was a significant financial and strategic contributor of The Gathering we thank them for their investment, support and commitment in making this event so successful.
We were honoured to have Te Ariki Kīngi Tūheitia, The Māori King, Tūheitia, as the patron of The Gathering .


These relationships underpinned the indigenous nature of The Gathering and contributed to the spirit and intent of the hui.  Going forward, having connected strongly with The Gathering, these organisations are proud of their connection and welcome the remaining part of the international indigenous whānau families.


History of The Gathering

‘Healing Our Spirit Worldwide’ is an Indigenous movement began in Canada in the 1980’s to address the impact of substance misuse and dependence among Indigenous people. Gatherings have focused on addressing the underlying issues and difficulties that predispose and maintain substance abuse among Indigenous people. 


The movement began as one person’s vision to create an international forum and movement focused on the alcohol and drug abuse issues and programs in Indigenous communities throughout the global community.  Maggie Hodgson a member of Nadleh Whuten Carrier First Nation of Canada, began lobbying the International Congress on Alcohol and Addictions (ICAA) and the World Health Organisation in the late 1980s. By 1990 the ICAA included a special track on indigenous addictions issues at their Berlin Conference. Indigenous people of Canada, Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia who attended the forum began a discussion which became the foundation for an international healing movement.


The first Gathering in Edmonton in 1992 attracted 3,500 people from 17 countries. That and subsequent gatherings have been a cultural and spiritual movement celebrating the tenacity and resilience of indigenous people around the world in their struggle against alcohol and drug misuse.


The Gatherings are a cultural and spiritual movement celebrating the tenacity and resiliency of indigenous people around the world to stand against alcohol and drug abuse. This has been achieved through the development of successful proven models and programmes that work for indigenous people.
Health and governance issues in relation to substance abuse have been a more recent focus of The Gatherings which have come to incorporate a wider spectrum of indigenous health issues and responses, including in 2015, a focus on youth, and innovative suicide prevention.


The Seventh Gathering built on the findings and learnings from the six previous events, including the Indigenous Leaders’ Forum, which brings indigenous perspectives and approaches to problems. The forum identified colonisation and cultural alienation as two important determinants in substance abuse. Subsequent gatherings progressively identified the causes of adversity and featured programmes which had improved life styles and future prospects.