Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
thesis_access.pdf (2.25 MB)

Whāia Te Mauriora - In Pursuit of Healing: Theorising connections between soul healing, tribal self-determination and Māori suicide prevention in Aotearoa / New Zealand

Download (2.25 MB)
posted on 2021-11-13, 23:03 authored by Lawson-Te Aho, Keri

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.  This PhD recommends healing methods (and pathways) for indigenous professionals and para-professionals working with extensive trauma in their communities. Trauma narratives are reframed as imperatives and opportunities for spiritual/soul healing.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

950308 Mātauranga Māori (Māori Knowledge)

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Psychology


Liu, James; Ward, Tony