Kinship embodies who we are as First Nations people. It is holistic and entwined with identity and community. It provides us with strength and personal foundations.

Connection to our families and loved ones, the kinship element within healing and medicine, forms from generational storytelling and transferring of knowledge. This is the link to our ancestors, our ties with the past, the present and the future.

Kinship represents the importance of having community with us when away from Country.

Background: Rangituhia Wharenui at Raketepauma Marae. Image by Irihipeti Waretini.


N’Arweet Carolyn Briggs is an Elder of the Boon Wurrung people.

As a young child, illness caused her to become paralysed.



“My healing is what my mother brought me through. She performed lots of massaging, telling me stories, embedding a lot of knowledge.”


N’Arweet Carolyn Briggs in the Royal Botanic Gardens at Naarm/Melbourne, sharing stories about healing.


“It was her dedication and looking after me through massage, poultices, which I never understood, but they were quite smelly. But her dedication to me, that’s my understanding, of my being cared for and her putting a lot of energy and time into me, to help me recover.”



“The rules that I understood about practicing traditional methods was never, you never questioned. You knew that it was going on, you heard about it, but you never quite understood it because you never asked. And, our culture is not a questioning culture. Our culture is how you’re being informed by your healer, or how you are active in your own healing in the way you trust your family, looking after you.”


N’Arweet Carolyn Briggs inspecting a Kangaroo Apple plant.


“She embedded lots of stories into me, stories of her own world, her view of her world, and how she encouraged me to live.”


Hear N’Arweet Carolyn Briggs, Elder of the Boon Wurrung people, talk about the future she sees for first nations medicine and healing.

Background: N’Arweet Carolyn Briggs walking with Jakobi through the Royal Botanic Gardens, Naarm/Melbourne. Images and footage by James Henry.


Lia Pa’apa’a hails from Samoa and the Luiseño nation of Southern California. Lia is an artist, creative producer and community arts cultural development practitioner.



“My kinship positions me in the world.  It connects me to my ancestors and descendants, it connects me to lands across the great Pacific Ocean and it connects me to my relatives of different species.”


Lia, holding her son Temét.


“Kin to me is not just about human connection, but also to that of animals, plants, weather systems and land.  My connections to these kin are what creates my sense of belonging, purpose and responsibility.  My kinship helps to guide me in the world.  It grounds me with humility and purpose and drives me to do better and advocate for those who cannot.”



Lia is a creative producer and community arts cultural development practitioner who delivers community empowered multi art form projects with Pacific Islander, culturally diverse and Indigenous communities across regional and remote contexts.



 “Native Americans live by the lore of honouring the seven generations before and after you.  Positioning yourself on this continuum comes with a sense of place, purpose, community and kinship that transcends time.  It also comes with a sense of responsibility and a system in which to conduct yourself.”

Lia has written about Kinship and Healing.

Background: Nestled together in handwoven baskets is a range of children’s toys made by Lia.


Djirri Djirri is a Wurundjeri female dance group formed in 2013 by Mandy Nicholson with members of her family. Mandy is Wurundjeri, Dja Dja wurrung and Ngurai illum wurrung. Mandy’s Spirit Protector is Gawarn the echidna.


Djirri Djirri Logo

Djirri Djirri means Willy Wagtail in Woiwurrung, the language of Wurundjeri people.

“Our logo represents the tail of the Djirri Djirri. The lines within depict the carving style of Wurundjeri people. These symetrical and flowing lines are found on our wooden implements such as shields and boomerangs, but also on possum skins that are sewn together to create a possum skin cloak. These unique designs are regional identifiers, as each region have different symbols.”



“The Willy Wagtail the Spirit Bird, gave us dance! Many of our group have danced since they were young children, while others have learnt as adults. Our dances are created to honour our Liwik (Ancestors), Kerr-up-non (Family), Biik (Country) and animals. We are all related by blood through one woman, Annie Borate, William Barak’s sister. We teach our dancers to also sing in Woiwurrung language, our Mother Tongue.”


Experience Djirri Djirri’s Wominjeka Ngarrga (Welcome Dance)

Background: Djirri Djirri dancers in a line, ready to perform.


Symbolism by Mandi Barton.