Psychotherapists en masse

Psychotherapists en masse

Our household has gradually come back to normal after a period of high stress: my wife was on the local organising committee for a national annual conference, for the NZ Association of Psychotherapists.  My role was that of support person and unofficial photographer.

One of the highlights was a guest speaker by the name of Michael Leunig.  He has been described as Australia’s best loved cartoonist and social commentator, a modern day renaissance man and one of Australia’s 200 “living treasures”.  By pushing my camera through the throng of his fans, I managed to capture some nice moments.  One of the conference delegates (a jeweller as well) had prepared a beautiful little brooch featuring a couple of his characters.  Michael appeared touched by its presentation.

More images here, along with coverage of the official powhiri (welcome ceremony):

In New Zealand these days, it is very common for a conference to begin with a welcome by the tangatawhenua (literally “the people of the land” – indigenous people who have the rights to this region).  It was especially important for this conference which had a strong bicultural theme.  The formal welcome took place at the Whakatu Marae, located conveniently enough right next door to the conference venue at Founders Park (in Nelson).

The ceremony begins when the manuhiri (visitors) are called onto the marae by a senior woman from the local hosts. The womenfolk lead the procession, a sign of trust and friendship. The visitors enter the wharenui (meeting house) to be greeted by speeches and songs of welcome.  It is almost invariably a moving experience and this one was no exception.

I was able to take some photographs outside the wharenui but cameras are forbidden inside.  That’s a pity, because the carvings, weavings and tapestries are simply wonderful, full of a rich history.  But these pictures will give you a small taste of the occasion:

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