Back to All Events

Plenary 2 (BALLROOM)

Chair: Prof. Merryn Gott

The Circle of Life: An Australian First Nations People Perspective on Life and Death

Susan Moylan-Coombs

We have the knowledge to share if only people listened.

We are the oldest living culture on the planet and we are taught about the meaning of life through our human journey, through ceremony and rights of passage to celebrate our existence.

The circle is sacred: it tells a story about Birth, Life, Death and Afterlife, it tells the story of the journey of our human spirit.

In life and death the narrative of who we are and our place in the world is carried in our own unique life journey blueprint.

We are born with a purpose, a code, that instructs us on our responsibilities and behaviours this lifetime.

The Lore by which we live our life is emeshed in the honouring of the Sacred World, the Human World and the Natural World.

Bird is a new beginning, death allows it to be so. We don’t fear birth, we celebrate it.

So why do we fear death and not celebrate it?

The cycle of life is continuous, the Circle is Sacred.

Digital story telling research methods support the reclamation and retention of indigenious end of life care customs in Aotearoa

Dr Tess Moeke-Maxwell

Many indigenous New Zealanders have retained their traditional end-of-life care customs despite the impact of neo-colonialism, however many have not.  Kaumātua (elders) from the Te Ārai Palliative Care and End of Life Research Group identified the need to conduct an investigation of traditional care customs to share with indigenous families who are in need of this vital cultural information.  Responding to their story-telling traditions, the Pae Herenga study used Kaupapa Māori research (KMR) methods to undertake 61 face-to-face interviews with Māori whānau (families) (including those with a life limiting illness), traditional healers, spiritual practitioners and Māori health professionals.  Three digital story workshops were also conducted producing 16 stories.  Each three minute video provides an example of indigenous values, tikanga (customs) and kawa (protocols) that inform end-of-life care.  A range of care customs were identified, as well as facilitators and barriers to using these within different health care settings.  We found that KMR methods, face-to-face interviews and the employment of digital story-telling workshops, provided a safe and effective way to engage with indigenous people to collect ‘stories’ about their care customs.  Public dissemination via a social media campaign will ensure these cultural traditions are shared with Māori families who need this vital information.