Keri Lawson-Te Aho is an indigenous/Maori researcher and scholar from Aotearoa/New Zealand. She has been instrumental in the development of indigenous psychology in Aotearoa and has a record of 20 years of activism inside Western based psychology, challenging the relevance of it for Maori . Keri is known internationally for her research in Maori and indigenous suicide prevention and was a Fulbright scholar and visiting research fellow at the East West Center in Hawaii in 1995/6. She has travelled extensively into indigenous communities in Alaska and throughout North America working on suicide prevention and tribal self-determination projects. Her research interests focus on political and tribal activism and self-determination for the healing and restoration of indigenous peoples. She is a lecturer in the Otago university, Wellington School of Medicine in New Zealand and maintains an active involvement in leadership in suicide prevention and tribal development in her own communities.
WHĀIA TE MAURIORA
IN PURSUIT OF HEALING
Theorising Connections between Soul Healing, Tribal Self-determination and Māori Suicide Prevention in Aotearoa/New Zealand
Māori suicide is theorised as an outcome of the wounding of the indigenous spirit as a result of complex trauma birthed during colonisation. The spirit is theorised as the place where trauma and suffering take root in whakapapa (kinship). Whakapapa is theorised as the mechanism by which spiritual affliction is transferred inter-generationally manifesting in physical outcomes within and between generations. Māori suicide is interpreted as the physical manifestation of spiritual wounds and spiritual wounding requires responses that ameliorate and heal spiritual suffering at the source. Therapies for soul healing are framed in context of indigenous self determination. This creates space to privilege healing traditions housed within cultural worldviews, practices and knowledge(s). This assumes an ability to reclaim traditional healing knowledge that works at a spiritual level. Whakapapa is theorised as the pathway by which profound healing of the wounded spirit can be achieved. In this research, connection to whakapapa and a full consciousness of the divine (mauri) inside all indigenous peoples that connects us with each other provides a source of healing of the spirit through balancing the spiritual and physical elements of human existence. In order to test the relationship between historical trauma and the outcomes of spiritual suffering 182 years of history were researched in one discrete tribal group. Using whānau narratives three major trauma acts were identified. The whānau identified historical trauma as having contemporary outcomes and consequences for whakapapa/kinship relationships. They found the analysis of historical trauma to be empowering, bringing forth revelation knowledge and explaining inter-generational suffering. The explanatory power of historical trauma/soul and spiritual wounding made sense to them experientially, intuitively and intellectually. PDF