It's All about "You": Unfurling the Koru Within

New Zealand Journal of Occupational Therapy, March 2009 | Go to article overview
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It's All about "You": Unfurling the Koru Within


Malo e lelei! Greetings!

E nga tangata whenua, tena koutou / To the home people greetings

Ki a koutou te mana whenua o konei / To you the locals greetings

Ki a koutou e whakaroko ki / To you who are listening to this I greet you

He mihi mahana ki a koutou katoa / Warm greetings to you all


Ko Rangitoto me Te Tatua a Riukiuta? Tamaki Makaurau toku Maunga / My mountain is Rangitoto and Big King Volcano Three Kings, Auckland

Ko Te Moana nui a Kiwa, toku Moana / My sea is the Pacific Ocean

Ko Tonga me Ingari me Aotearoa nga whenua / My nationality is Tongan, English and New Zealander

Ko Cocker me Jackson toku Tipuna / My ancestors are Cocker & Jackson

Ko Ida Cocker toku Mama / My Mother is Ida Cocker

Ko Trevor Simmons toku Papa / My Father is Trevor Simmons

Ko Carolyn Simmons Carlsson oku ingoa / My name is Carolyn Simmons Carlsson

He Kaihaumanu Turoro ahau / I am an Occupational Therapist

My thanks to the New Zealand Association of Occupational Therapists (NZAOT) for the invitation to speak at this year's conference. I am humbled at the thought that I have been handed Penman's challenge from her 2006 Frances Rutherford Lecture, in being chosen as the local "expert" to keynote at our conference.

As has been acknowledged throughout the conference, there are so many more treasures who are equally deserving in our country and long may we follow this new tradition of acknowledging them as keynote speakers, alongside our invited treasures from afar. Nga mihi mahana hoki ki a Yvonne korua Karen, tena koutou.


I would like to begin by sharing with you one of my most treasured whakatauki (proverb).

He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata

What is the most important thing in the world? It is people! It is people! It is people!

When preparing for this talk, I was told by a former colleague that this whakatauki was originally a kuia's (old woman's) lament from long ago when all the tangata (men folk) had been taken from the Pa, as a result of war. Nowadays this proverb often symbolizes the pivotal importance of people; for without people there is no 'us'; a central thread that has run throughout the conference. Although perhaps overused, speaking personally, this whakatauki encapsulates the centrality of 'you' and 'I' in our professional and personal lives. Moreover, the whakatauki sits at the heart of the korero (conversation) I wish to unfold with you today, which is 'all about you', and in saying this I include myself.


Purpose of presentation and an invitation

I have woven this presentation around a significant symbol of Aotearoa/New Zealand - the koru

I trust the use of metaphor will give the desired sense of motion and action that I am after, as befits today's conference theme: ACTION. For me, the action of the unfurling koru encapsulates how we as individuals unfurl throughout our professional journeys, some even into the brilliance of the mighty ponga (silver fern) tree such as our leaders, our colleagues with postgraduate doctorals, or those who represent us on our professional association. Similarly, the image of the koru encapsulates the concepts of ENERGY and INSPIRATION, the two other themes of this conference.

Drawing from symbolism, my intention is to speak to the therapist within, as both 'person' and 'professional'. When you go back to your lives after conference, I invite you to remain inspired and energized; take individual action towards unfurling the professional koru that is within each of you in your day-today practice lives to 'become' and 'be' the very best occupational therapist that you can be. I also encourage you to act in concert with others in the profession, to busy yourselves with activities that lead to staking our occupational claim in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

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It's All about "You": Unfurling the Koru Within


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