More than 1,000 Indigenous people from 10 countries across the globe flocked to the Waikato region of New Zealand’s north island to celebrate the international cultural and spiritual foundation of Indigenous people at the Healing Our Spirit Worldwide event this week.
NITV Staff Writer

17 Nov 2015 - 12:34 PM  UPDATED 17 Nov 2015 - 1:40 PM

The four-day event, hosted by Te Rau Matatini in the city of Hamilton, is considered to be one of the largest health gatherings in the world enabling attendees from Australia and other countries like Hawaii, Canada, Guam and Mali to share Indigenous-specific healing solutions.

Representatives from the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS) were at the event to exchange successful health and wellbeing knowledge gained from their program Deadly Elders Do Circus: a dementia prevention program that teaches older Indigenous Australians to do circus moves.

“The benefits include working fine motor skills that they learn early in life and start to forget later in life,” Janaya Charles from VAHS told Maori Television.

“It’s getting them out of the house too because a lot of people become depressed and somehow, we get them to this program and they really excel in life and they find the will to live again.”

The overarching theme for the healing event’s Seventh Gathering, Mauri Ora, means “life force, a positive state of being, a continuous energy flow, life, good health and vitality”.

The gathering opened on Sunday with a Maori welcoming ceremony – Pōwhiri – and was followed by a series of international keynote speakers, sessions and cultural performances.

It will end on Wednesday with a closing ceremony involving performances by cultural groups and top musicians. 

Healing Our Spirit Worldwide is an Indigenous movement which began in Canada in the 1980s to address the underlying issues and difficulties facing Indigenous people around the world.

“The purpose of The Seventh Gathering of Healing our Spirit Worldwide 2015 is for indigenous peoples across the world to come together to share their strength, hope, and wisdom as they face community health, governance, and substance abuse issues,” the organisation’s website reads.

“It provides a forum to discuss solutions and to connect and learn from other peoples to heal the spirit, heal the earth, and sustain cultural practices for the next generation.”