“Tihei mauri ora”
We are most grateful to Dr Valance Smith, the Assistant Pro-Vice Chancellor (Māori Advancement) at AUT, who has gifted us the title of our conference.
Tihei – Contact is a significant word and concept, both for PCE practitioners, as it is the first of Rogers’ six necessary and sufficient conditions, and the theoretical basis of pre-therapy, and for everyone engaged in bicultural and cross-cultural meeting and encounter. This theme will be represented in the conference in a number of ways: from the opening of the conference which will begin with a pōwhiri, a formal cultural welcome to the marae and AUT ; through opening and welcome speeches from members of the Organising Committee, Hone Mihaka, and the Vice Chancellor of AUT, as well as more informal opportunities to meet and greet old friends and colleagues and to make new ones; to our closing formalities, including a poroporoaki.
Mauri – Culture acknowledges the ground on which we stand as the basis of our identity, and as the context of all intercultural contact. This is core to understanding contemporary life, especially in the bicultural nation and multi-ethnic society of Aotearoa New Zealand. For us, having a Māori title to the conference reflects our acknowledgement of the importance and voice of Māori as tangata whenua, the people of the land, and our honouring of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the Treaty of Waitangi. In particular, we will be exploring this through the pre-conference two-day bicultural encounter group, which will be held on the University’s marae, a traditional place of living and meeting in Aotearoa.
Ora – Context: “Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, he toa takitini | My strength is not mine alone, as it is the strength of the community.” This Māori whakatauki or proverb acknowledges the importance of the strength of others and of community to reach the desired state of ora or health or well-being. It challenges us to think more in terms of psychologies that acknowledge “us” and “we” more than “I” and “me”, and context more than the individual; as Fritz Perls put it: “No organism is self-sufficient … there is always an inter-dependency of the organism and its environment”.