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2019 Ageing and Spirituality Conference

The 2019 Selwyn Institute Ageing & Spirituality Conference explored the power of resilience in older people. We looked at resilience as a strength and capability to balance our vulnerability, integral for one’s capacity to deal with adversity.


The path to inner strength

The American Psychologists Association defines resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress. These sources of threat can be mental, physical as well as spiritual.

Living longer, by nature, will increase the likelihood of encountering situations that create vulnerability. “Bounce Back” becomes all the more critical the longer we live.

So where does this capability stem from? There is certainly no magic pill involved. Rather it comes from experience and insights meshed with dogged determination and a spirit to overcome adversity. Often those who care such as family, friends or health professionals ‘hold’ the resilience when a person is particularly frail.
Resilience building techniques come from the ability to share experiences and results. Stories, it seems, have both an empowering and therapeutic effect in guiding oneself or others to a point of recovery and re-engagement.

Sharing stories and secrets of success will be the focus of this year’s conference. We will investigate the many aspects of resilience from a myriad of perspectives answering these, and other compelling and engaging, questions.

  • What are the different, or even essential, contributors to creating and building on resilience?
  • What makes people resilient or otherwise?
  • What does resilience look and feel like?
  • What are the spiritual aspects of resilience? Are these an essential part of a successful ageing well ‘mix’?
  • Are some people, or cultures, more resilient than others? Why is storytelling such a valuable point of engagement for those telling their tales as well as people who listen?
  • Is there, in fact, an emotional, spiritual and even psychological benefit from the sharing of insights and achievements that goes on beyond just building resilience?
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Photos from the 2019 conference

2019 Speakers

Nicky Frater

Chaplain, The Selwyn Foundation

Mihi and Karakia

Dwight Whitney

Content Manager, Selwyn Institute


Hilda Johnson-Bogaerts 

Director, The Selwyn Institute     

Opening Address & Housekeeping           

Richard von Sturmer

Writer, performer and filmmaker

Storytelling and the practice of resilience

Dr Gary Cheung

University of Auckland

The Psychological Story of Resilience

Reverend Caroline Leys

Director, Spiritual Care - The Selwyn Foundation

Assessing spiritual distress and needs with older people

Rebekah Preston

Age Concern

Resilient communities

Amanda Levey

Whitecliffe Arts School Programme Director, Arts TherapyWhitecliffe Arts School Programme Director, Arts Therapy

Arts therapy to create resilience- interactive session

Tools and techniques for Resilience creation:

  • The Therapy Box
    Hannah Young Diversional Therapist
  • Mind Body Practice- Chair yoga
    Heyes Johnson
  • Councillor and Bereavement Care
    Louise Thompson, Mercy Hospice

Geremy Hema

University of Auckland

Whanau & Resilience

Dr Lucy Hone                    

NZIWR Director

Creating resilience. What my life and work has taught me

Closing Address