Archive by Author | Margaret McCallum

Life Blog 9 An unforeseen adventure in sovereignty

It’s about two, and the afternoon is empty – a good time for a short walk to the hut I stayed in last time, and to take photos promised to a friend. I am on retreat, not because I feel the need, but because the call was persistent.

The hut, and the other further up the steep incline, is unoccupied until tomorrow. Little has changed here, except my favourite feature; the outside tap had been swapped for an indoor sink, and some of the simplicity I so loved has drained away.

I have been recalling the kindness of a man I met last time while gathering my day’s food from the Centre kitchen. Perhaps he’d asked how I was getting on, and I told him I was confused about the passage of my life. The next day I’d taken up his offer to follow the path past my long-drop toilet and in time I’d come to his hut, and we could talk.

Honouring this connection, I decide to set off in the direction of ‘his’ hut. The track peters out at a water tank. I’m confused, but I know from last time, and from the map this time, that there is a way from one hut to the next. Spotting what I take to be a piece of track, I scramble up a bank and keep going . . . and going . . . up. By the time I realise it may have been a pig track that drew me, I am very unsure I would find my way back. But it’s more than this – an inner insistence draws me up.

Trees become fewer. I am in a dense covering of blackberry brambles and a great deal of dried out, cut gorse. I move somewhat to my right as I can see the odd pine tree, and wonder if they’re on the vehicular track that provides a different access to the top hut.

I am holding my phone, aware that dropping it in this morass of vegetation could mean loss. Eventually, in order to have two free hands, I do put it in my shorts pocket and trust life to keep it safe. I am not dressed for this unforeseen adventure – shorts, a light top, summer cardigan and cloth hat.

Pausing periodically to stretch and try to ascertain the way ahead, I also check in with myself. Yes, still a sense of “Keep going up”. For a long while I translate this as “You’ll find the track if you keep going up”. About 5pm I realise that the comfort I’ve been giving myself – Yes, you got lost, but you found your way out, and no one need know – is a false comfort.

As the sun lowers closer to the high hills opposite mine it is time someone in the outer world knows I am . . . lost. I ring a friend, not wanting her to do anything, just to know. On an impromptu trip with friends, she is about to move out of cell-phone range, so she announces she may alert the Centre, and this will be her choice. I do not argue – and I know that the phone is checked only periodically.

I head on, increasingly sure I am in active wild pig territory, confirmed when a young one crosses a few metres ahead. A potential encounter with her elders scares me, but I am grateful for the tracks they have pushed through the felled gorse. On hands and knees, and often having to rescue my hat from the grasping thorns, I keep going up. My hope is to find a clearing – to reach the top of the hill and get the lay of the land.

Meanwhile I contact another friend, asking her to tune in with me, to check out my inner compass. In one delightful sentence she tells me it’s time to get help. She is right; I ring the emergency services.

The woman keeps me on the phone while she contacts the land-based search and rescue organisation, checking in with me periodically to make sure I’m alright. I am still climbing the hill, the growth a little more open in places, allowing upright movement.

At the woman’s suggestion I turn off my phone to conserve the battery. They have picked up my position. Two things keep striking me with a wave of gratitude: I have my phone (and I am not in the habit of taking my phone for a walk) and it is quite well charged (and I often let it get to 2% before charging).

Search and Rescue were due to ring me at 6:45pm and it is now 7:30. I have found a tiny clearing, and a dip in one corner provides some shelter. Without the sun it is getting chilly – time to call the emergency services again.

The new woman has a different approach. “The Search and Rescue team is on its way, but you may as well just walk out anyway” sums it up. She tells me I’m only 500m from the valley road, and to find northwest on my cell phone compass and head in that direction. My attempts to describe the terrain and vegetation don’t seem to land. She has her information, and is sure I can easily find my way out, as long as I go in the right direction. Eventually I ask if it’s a topographical map she’s looking at. No. I know the sides of the valley road are almost sheer, but I’m a willing and helpful soul, so I make an attempt to get on my way. After several circuits of my little clearing, I simply cannot find where I came in, or where I can push my way out. It’s clear I am to stay here.

It is around 10pm when I’m informed that the team has arrived at the Centre and will take instructions from the caretaker about the best way to get to me. I am also told that she will have food and a warm bed ready for me when I get out. I am very glad of the connection she and I had made the day before.

The next communication tells me the team has been taken to a point about 470m from where I am. I wait, and listen, and wait, and listen. Eventually I hear my name called, first by a woman, and then a man. It feels deliberate and thoughtful. I make a cheery response.

Two young men and a somewhat older woman, a nurse, reach me about 20 past midnight. I am cold, but in good spirits. The sky is clear; the stars have kept me company. And listening for the tiniest sounds in night has kept me occupied. The team share with me their water, muesli bars, warm clothing, heat pads, a sleeping bag and much humour.

The general consensus is that this is a helicopter job. I believe I’d be okay to walk back if they’ve bashed a bit of a track, but I should have known it’s not like that – and it’s dark. They sensibly decide I’ve had enough for one day, and they, too, are weary, volunteers who will be off to work in a few hours. Several official conversations later the decision is made, and finally the bip, bip, bip of the helicopter can be heard. 

Meanwhile the two men have ventured uphill in search of a larger clearing, returning with, “You definitely found the only clearing on the hillside”, and set about removing a large bush to create just enough hovering space for the helicopter.

A medic is lowered amid a blast of wind and noise and the helicopter circles off. He repeats the nurse’s verbal check of my health, and explains that I will be taken to the hospital for an examination, just to ensure all is well. I ask what happens after that. “You will be free to go”, I’m told.

It is now between two and three in the morning. It is cold; my light clothing is ragged. Being free to leave the hospital an hour-and-a-half from either home or the Centre does not feel like freedom. I have asked enough of my friends tonight. They have sent me love and warmth and connection well into the night. And the thought of taking a taxi, having handed my warm layers back to their owners, feels heavy. I manage to convey something of this by saying I am fine – I don’t need to go to the hospital; I do not want to go to the hospital.

The friendly medic goes off to make another call and comes back with good news – I am not obliged to go to the hospital; they will instead take me to the hangar and he will examine me there himself.

I honour his efforts, but finally I say quietly, “It would be much less traumatic for me if I could be dropped off at the caretaker’s house and take up her offer of food and a warm bed”.

He goes away again. I discover the outcome when one of the young men asks, “How did you pull that off?” Once I understand what he means, I repeat what I said to the medic.

I gather the pilot is getting concerned about fuel; the arrangements have taken a long time, and all the while he has circled nearby. He lifts first the two men, and then returns for the rest of us.

The stimulation of the noise and lights is almost too much. I close my eyes, and mentally close my ears, too, but not before I glimpse a worried look on the pilot’s face as he helps me into position.

The paddock of flattened grass is a welcome landing. I am ushered to the waiting police car, but first steered away while the medic explains his decision to the officers. In silence they take me up the winding, stony driveway of the Centre and drop me at the caretaker’s home. As good as her word, she has food, warmth, a bed made up, and even warm clothes for me to borrow for sleep and the next day.


I do understand rules and protocols – they have often been laid down in response to some carelessness. But they can easily override empathy and common sense.

I have come to understand that my quietly and firmly stating my truth – that I felt fine and did not need to be examined, and that my greater need was for quiet, and rest, and care – had cut through a thick wall of institutional structure. This is sovereignty. It does not demean the other in any way, but it holds an unshakable alignment to one’s own truth. I am aware that the medic, too, must have had to stand in his sovereignty as he passed his decision along the chain of command. And maybe the policemen’s seeming unfriendliness was actually their coming to grips with how they would file their report, or with this small, quiet being in the back seat who had somehow defied them.

We live in times of fast-creeping and widespread control. Like a frog in hot water, we have been slowly enticed into convenience and acquiescence. And we go there because it is easier than being deeply responsible for every choice and decision of our lives. The invitation, now, is to be more conscious, more in tune with our own inner movements, and to have the courage to stand in our own truth.

Stand gently, stand strong.

With love,


Life Blog 8  A reflection on the times we’re in

 A friend recently asked how my writing was going – she hadn’t heard anything of late. I wrote back  “I don’t seem to have anything to say at present” . . . but today I feel I do!

I think we would all agree that we are in challenging times, globally and personally. The times seem to be eliciting two responses. On the one hand I observe anger at the ‘perpetrators’ and / or reaching for a ‘saviour’ of some description. On the other hand I see a determination to ‘be the change’ – to do the individual inner work that creates the ground for a new way of living, for the many.

As death approaches, these same responses are often evident – an outward grasping for a cure, or for someone or something to blame, or an inward movement towards acceptance of what is, and reconciliation with others.

Stephen Jenkinson reminds us often of the need to “do the work of dying”. Right now I believe we’re being called to ‘do the work of living’.

I agree with Mattias Desmet  whom I understand to be saying that the turmoil we are going through at present, and may do so for some time yet, holds the deepest possibility for our becoming all we can be – for finding the real depth and breadth of what it means to be human. And this is about connection – to our inner essence, to each other, to the natural world around us, and to the Mystery that lies behind life.

This has me wanting to say:  Blessings on all that is happening!  Blessings on us all as we navigate life, here, now!

Life Blog 7 Simplicity Slot 5

In this the final Simplicity Slot we dip into and refresh earlier threads, and lead into a poem which is essentially a hymn to our beautiful, if troubled, planet, and to the power of choice.

As always, your comments are welcomed.

This entry was posted on August 27, 2022. 3 Comments

Life Blog 6   Simplicity Slot 4

“Start with what you’ve got”  is one of the themes in this Simplicity Slot. This one little mantra brings out masses of creativity!

These 5-6 minute talks for radio were recorded in 2009. Perhaps they belong even more fully in 2022!


This entry was posted on August 24, 2022. 3 Comments

Life Blog 5 – Simplicity Slot 3

We’re up to the third Simplicity Slot, and this time the theme is about travelling light through life.

Feel free to leave a comment about your own experiences of living with a limited quantity of belongings and how that was, or is, for you. Perhaps you found it freeing; perhaps you didn’t like it at all!
The audio is 5-6 minutes.

This entry was posted on August 19, 2022. 2 Comments

Life Blog 4 – Simplicity Slot 2

Hello All.

The theme of this week’s Simplicity Slot audio is S L O W . . . . and I am reminded of a wonderful slow-travel trip to Paris from the UK my elder daughter, Nicci, and I made some years ago. Thick snow and ice made it even slower than expected, but it all added to the adventure!

If you have anything to share after listening to the audio, please do so in the Comments, or directly to me. It’s always lovely to hear how things land.


This entry was posted on August 19, 2022. 6 Comments

Life Blog 3 –  Simplicity Slot 1

Life Blog 3:  Simplicity Slot 1.

Since my blog about community I have been following my own inner compass in that direction. After several weeks with some folk whose mini community roughly resembles what I wrote about, I find myself in the lovely town of Motueka, connecting with many people of like mind. I have floated the idea, and am watching to see if it’s ready to swim . . . or not.

Meanwhile I unearthed from my oft-travelled belongings a CD of five brief talks I gave on a community radio station in the UK, back in 2009. Finding them still relevant, maybe even more so, I have had them converted to mp3 files and will send them out one a week over the next five weeks. They are about a five-minute listen. Enjoy!

This entry was posted on August 18, 2022. 11 Comments

Life Blog 2 – Community

Life Blog 2:  Community

I have been having an email conversation with a friend who, like many of us, is feeling a strong pull towards community, and have decided to share some of my thoughts in this blog.
In essence, what I envisage is a bit of a combination of an intentional community and a town with a sense of community. I see a small group of people choosing to live close enough to share various aspects of their lives, and inviting or attracting others to also come and live close by. This ‘intentional community’ works energetically and practically in the wider community of which it is a part. It works out its own momentum by following its inner compass.
From my admittedly limited experience of intentional community, it is easy to become self-absorbed and carry a sense of one’s own specialness. Certainly there may be a special impetus that initiates an intentional community, but then the challenge is to keep that impulse alive in an on-going openness to the divine spark – a constant listening inwardly, sharing, responding. When an intentional community sees itself as a model, or example, it is very easy to fall into a sense of being above or better than.

So, if I were to re-envisage intentional community, it would look like this:

It begins with one household purchasing (preferably) a home in a small town or suburb. This may be just a couple. They make a commitment to live in a way that fosters connection, cooperation and respect at every level – within the household, with those in the wider community of which they are part, between themselves and land/nature, and between themselves and the divine impulse, or Source. In this last regard, there is a commitment to allow the soul to lead – the inner compass, not just of the individual, but of the household, and as it grows, of the intentional community.

The intentional community grows slowly of its own volition. Perhaps there is a choice to manifest a particular element, skill, or configuration, but for the most part, those whom the soul of the intentional community chooses or calls would turn up. Living in close proximity (walking/cycling/wheelbarrowing distance) seems good, and/or another little cluster of household forms. Food growing is fundamental, and working together to do so.

Meanwhile, members of the intentional community are connecting with the local community, learning what best to grow, and how, and coming to know the community and how it ticks. The intentional community, while understanding itself as an intentional community, to all intents and purposes relates as friends. It has no intention to influence the wider community of which it finds itself part – it just learns from and contributes to in a flow of give and take. It is unassuming and quiet, delighting in its good fortune.

How does this land for you? I would be very interested to have your feedback and response.







Life Blog 1  Hope Denial and Expectation

Life Blog 1  Hope Denial and Expectation

I was recently asked, “When does hope become denial?” The context was a woman hoping for her partner’s return.

As I felt into what she said I had a sense of hope as a very wide, spacious thing. Hope understands and accepts that life is benevolent and good. But hope also allows space for the mystery of life, for our not knowing, ultimately, what is best for ourselves or for those whose lives we touch.

Denial is refusing to accept that what life is trying to show us is for real. This woman, while in some measure wanting to be in denial, was open to the possibility that her partner may never return, but could she still hope?

Expectation also needed to be in the mix. Hope is wide-open arms. It contains, holds, all that life may present, including unexpected delights and discomforts. Expectation shrinks – it is hands a few centimetres apart, and the focus of our attention on that very small space whist all the rest of life passes by!

Hope is big enough to hold a particular, but it spreads its arms and its vision way, way beyond the small specific.

Is there an area of your life that is inviting you to open your arms and vision wider?

May this be a season of hope for you, and may every season find you with wide-open arms.



Preparing the spirit to die: an interview with Tess Moeke-Maxwell

What I think you’re contributing to, is a project which is helping us to demystify or to lessen the fear around the subject of death. I think most of us have some fear at some point. I like to think I haven’t, but when my time comes, and if I’m faced with a life-limiting illness, it’s not to say that I might not wake up at 2am one morning and be running with cold sweat and fear, because I’ve slipped from my wairua space, or my protective bubble of knowing and trusting in my atua and tūpuna, into a more egoistic, worldly space of forgetting who I am for that moment.  So good on you for doing this.

Have you heard of Allan Kellehear? He’s an Australian sociologist who writes and speaks about Compassionate Communities. He’s saying, what we really need are compassionate communities, because at the moment, the model we’ve got is the palliative care model and pretty much this provides an acute service. Hospices with beds can accommodate patients for respite or to get to the nitty gritty of a tricky health issue, but they can’t support everyone. Kellehear says that what they’re trying to do in the palliative care space is to add more things on, because it’s not whole enough. So that’s where you get adding on the psychosocial, the spiritual. But he says this approach is still external to the communities that we live in. So what we really need is to strengthen our communities, which is what he calls Compassionate Communities. There is an international movement now.

There are other models out there. In my Māori Indigenous speak, I would say it’s probably going back to the pā, back to the communal, collective lifestyle and community that we used to have, where when something goes wrong, somebody comes over and shares what they have with you. There were particular tikanga (customs/rituals) and kawa (customary guidelines), around how people were cared for. So, I wonder how might compassionate communities actually look, and how can we all contribute to that approach?
If you asked me what relevance this has to Māori, I would say that, in the interviews I’ve done with people who are ill and dying, the stories that they tell me and that their whānau (extended family) tell me, fall into two camps. There are those people that were raised with their traditions, and they often have this whānau that wrap around them. They don’t have to think ‘What’s going to happen to me at the end of my life?’ or ‘Where am I going to go when I die?’ because they know that it’s taken care of, and why? Because these rituals have been in place for thousands of years, and even since colonisation, the ritual of the tangihana (rites for the dead) has changed very little. But the problem is, a lot of our whānau, because of colonialism, assimilation, urban migration, personal choice, lack of equity, all of that historical inequity reality, have ended up not being able to retain their communities, let alone their language and their rituals, and so there are a lot of whānau around that I think actually could also benefit from having a community culture of care at end-of-life.

Some whānau are really well-resourced with enough people, good health-literacy, and soldiers, as I call them – the people that actually do the grunt work such as the day-to-day caregiving and the heavy lifting, the transporting, attending health appointments, coordinating healthcare. That takes an enormous amount of resource and capability. And it doesn’t take rocket science to work out that there is, in comparison to non-Māori, poor health equity for Māori, and lots of social issues are experienced as well, for a lot of whānau.

The Financial Cost of Care was a study that Professor Merryn Gott conducted. I was a Māori researcher on it; I interviewed 11 whānau. One of the things that we found out from Māori concerns this particular phenomenon that whānau may not have enough resources, but they are still obligated through their whakapapa (genealogical ties), aroha (compassion, love, care) and manaakitanga (caring and hosting) towards their kaumātua (elderly people), to express their cultural care customs. Sometimes it meant that they were going into debt to do so. So, in one example, a kaumātua was in hospital, and his daughter knew that when a particular visitor with a lot of mana (prestige, authority) came to visit her father, her expected role within her whānau, on behalf of her father, who was a very respected and senior kaumātua, was that she would have to take the guest down to the cafeteria and manaaki him, give him something to eat and drink before his journey home. That is the correct tikanga. She was a solo mother. She had to use a credit card, for things like that. So, when the cultural imperative to care is at its greatest, our whānau are often under-resourced to provide it.

One of the spinoffs of the stress that people are under, as I have observed, is that there seem to be a lot of Māori in their 50s and 60s dying unexpectedly. So, you’re not only losing the kuia (older women) and koro (older men), you’re also losing the next generation who carry some of the tikanga. That’s distressing for me.

Yes, it’s sad. I think the issues for Māori at end-of-life are quite complex, and I don’t want to paint a doomsday picture. We’ve got to keep the balance here. You can look at the digital stories on our website ( because Manaaki’s story is one of those, and it’s a very good example. When Māori can bring their tikanga, their Māori knowledge, together with the knowledge of the Western health field, magic happens. Manaaki’s drew her whānau together to set up 24/7 care rosters. Awesome. So we’ve got that, but then we’ve got this other extreme, where there’s no one at home to care, or that person isn’t adequately resourced to do so. And I just think what is the quality of care for that kaumātua, what is the quality of life for that sole person that maybe left alone to care for them?
But then you’ve got to be careful, because if you go and talk to whānau, they will say ‘It was an absolute privilege. I would do it all again. I would go into debt again’. And that is mana, and mana is about status, authority and prestige. It’s about their mana, and it’s about them trying to whakamana or to uphold the mana of that other person who is dying. And it’s about the mana of the tūpuna, their hapu (sub-tribe) and iwi (tribe). And that is amazing and beautiful – aroha in action

I’ve found it interesting that I’ve never really found my place in palliative care, or hospice, so I’ve had to realise that this isn’t my field. So then I get interested in other things, other ways to connect with death and dying, so all this interests me.

You’re more holistic though, aren’t you? Sometimes I wonder whether palliative care is the Emperor’s clothes, because it all sounds good . . . We know that the Whare Tapa Whā model is being used within palliative care to uphold the balance of the tinana (physical), the wairua (spiritual), the hinengaro (emotional/mental) and, the whānau.  But in reality, when you start having a look at it, it all breaks down. It all becomes very ad hoc. I’m not saying some people don’t get to benefit from a well-functioning hospice with beautiful people and a well-resourced service – we hear lots of great stories about that. But there are other places where it’s not happening, or it’s arbitrary. Recently, I led a paper that was published about whānau perspectives of end-of-life for kaumātua. I’m using Whare Tapa Whā model to report what whānau thought went well. You can clearly see that what they thought went well sits under those four different domains. But it’s not systematic; mainly it seems to come down to the benevolence of individual health professionals as to whether health care is holistically balanced. That comes down to the capability of individuals. When we’re talking about bringing our heart out and helping someone through kindness or empathy or spending a bit more time with them or whatever, I don’t think these are capabilities you can teach someone really. I think they come from one’s personal spiritual self-development, and where one’s heart is at in terms of their own spiritual cultivation.

I think that’s one of the things about hospice that I find difficult. It seems to me very strange that there can be a kind of shying away from really acknowledging death and honouring the call of death. Hospice seems to me to be surrounded by a kind of hope and prettiness, and not a lot of openness to talking about death. I know it’s just a reflection of our society, but I still find it sad.

And that backs up what I think Allan Kellehear is saying when he talks about compassionate communities. I think he says palliative care services are basically still biomedical, and because the psychosocial element is lacking, we introduce it to plug the gap so to speak… so we have to keep adding on to get it right.

Wendy Duggleby and Rob MacLeod, and a whole host of authors did a meta-synthesis, a taxonomy of literature on indigenous people’s experiences of what constitutes good end-of-life care. We all were given a few research articles to read, and we did an analysis about what was the critical thing that meant the most to them at the end of life. And the commonality was preparing the spirit to die. The research says that when indigenous people use Western health services they find staff are not interested in ‘where I come from, the land I come from, who I really am. I can’t have my family here’. So, the things that matter to me as an indigenous person don’t as yet, have a home within this particular palliative care model – particularly, if they’re in a physical environment like a hospital.

You see, for Māori, the wairua (spirit) is at the top. Everything’s about wairuatanga, but then you have whaungatanga (connection, relationships) so that would be right up there too.

Something in what you’re saying resonates hugely with me. I think there’s a call to death, and we mostly ignore it. I love the idea of preparing the spirit to die.

I don’t know about other cultures, but I know that in Māori culture, if somebody is unwell, the whānau will often say ‘they’re waiting for Hemi to come home, or they’re waiting for Hine to come home’. So, whānau have a knowing. It’s usually not just the person who’s dying that lets them know what’s happening, but the other side let us know too, through tohu – we get signs. In one of my studies, a participant I interviewed gave me a snippet of the last week or two of her father’s life. Her role was to act as a kaitiaki or guardian regarding who would get to see her father, who was a prestigious chief. A lot of people wanted to see him – celebrities, politicians, journalists – and her job was to relay to him who was waiting at the gate. And imagine that this is a suburban house, where they now lived, outside of their own rohe. She had a beautiful story about how the ancestors came the night before he died and knocked on the door. And her mother returned home and heard what had happened in her absence and she said, ‘They’re coming to get him, and they’re letting us know’. So, yeah, I would agree with you.
Also, when you read the Buddhist scripture about death and reincarnation, they say that actually it’s the spirit that knows when it has to go. But you know, in this western, biomedical-model society, with its focus on prolonging life, we don’t know these stories. We’ve forgotten all this wairua knowledge.

And this is where my passion is. This is where I really want to focus. This is what I want to cover, to point out. Because then we get to how death can be, which is about honouring the process and its deep simplicity, and surrendering to it.

This is why I like those life stories about the Māori whānau, the community. My Mum is an eighty-eight year old kuia (elder) who does not want a tangihanga. She doesn’t want to be buried, she wants to be cremated. She wants to go to a funeral parlour without any embalming. That’s another thing that’s changing in our culture. It’s very different, what my Mum wants. And that’s the individualism coming in (what she wants versus what our whānau need to ensure our healing processes around grieving stay intact). And I say to her ‘The tangihanga isn’t so much for you, it’s for the living, because we will grieve over three days, four days intensely. We will probably argue, but we will do it all there, and it will stay there, and it will help our process’. Now that she is getting older she seems more able to acquiesce to what the whanau feels is best for the whanau.

I suppose for me on a personal level, if we truly know who we are, if we truly know our purpose for being here, if we are bringing out our true nature to help others remember who they are, what is there to fear, because by then we’ve already processed and hopefully relinquished much of the ego, which works very hard to keep us blinded and separated from who we really are. And if we do that work in our life . . .  so I think that’s really the big story behind this . . .

One of the things that has run like a warp strand through my own life, is the motif of ‘dying’. It has been there over and over again. Growth for me has been about ‘dying’, about relinquishing my own way of doing things. It’s been about going with the nudges . . .  And I do wonder if part of the long journey of this book is so that when it comes out, it will be in its right time . . .

I agree with that. I agree, and I think it needs somebody with a humbleness like yourself, and who has done the work, personally but also in the community, to be able to say ‘Hey, there could be another way here’. A lot of people are happy to speak about compassion and empathic care and all of that. But you’re really talking about the purpose of life. You’re asking people to consider what that means to them, and not to wait until they’re dying . . .

Exactly! And when we re-imagine how death can be, then all of these things affect how we live.

Of course they do. We’ll be able to live with more authenticity, and more awareness about what we’re trying to do, and our achievements . . .

Yes, and more sense of purpose and connection.
And I think, too, our own inner world directs us, and shows us when we’re dying. If we’ve done our inner work, we know when our work in the world is done, and we can just let go!

Well it sounds good, let’s just see if it is good, when it comes!

It seems to me, one of the greatest gifts this book could bring is inspiration. Let’s say somebody has just been diagnosed, and they pick this up . . . .  you know, when Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote her book and it was revolutionary. This could be something similar, in a very simple way of saying, ‘Have we thought about this?’  If it was me, it could be very inspirational because it could be all the things I was thinking about but couldn’t articulate, but you’ve spelt it all out. And you’ve also highlighted the problem, the blockage.
So it’s very, very, tapu work, very spiritual work. The main thing is to get it done, get it finished.


I would love to say it got finished, but it didn’t, which is why I have published as blog posts most of the interviews I conducted.
What this not-quite book did do, though, is inspire the writing of my other books, and I am enormously grateful to all those I interviewed for their very warm encouragement.

Thank you Tess, and all.

Tess (Ngāi Tai ki Tamaki and Ngāti Porou) is a founding member of the Te Ārai Palliative and End of Life Research Group in the School of Nursing at the University of Auckland where she is a Research Fellow. She describes herself as a qualitative Maori health researcher, with a particular interest in Maori end-of-life care and bereavement.