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The Presenters

Exploring death and dying is more important now than ever before - both for ourselves and for society in general. This conference is a unique opportunity to learn and contribute with a fantastic range of inspirational and knowledgeable speakers, covering a diverse array of topics. The conference is a celebration of life, as much as an exploration of death.

I can’t recommend it highly enough.

— Dr. Kate Grundy, Clinical Director of the Canterbury Integrated Palliative Care Services

Melanie Mayell


Melanie is an author, photographer and Deathwalker. In 2016 she started the Christchurch Death Cafe to encourage people to talk more openly about death and to confront her own fears about the subject.

'We seem to have such a fear of death and are reluctant to even discuss the subject. And yet maintaining an awareness of death has so many benefits, at the very least it can remind us of what is most important, each day, right now.

Since becoming more curious about death I've met a whole world of people doing interesting things in death-related fields; artists and film-makers, death doulas, doctors, scientists, and psychopomps

[to name just a few].


Creating a one day event is a way of bringing together a cross-section of speakers and different points of view to make the subject of death more accessible, interesting and empowering for all of us.'

For more about Melanie, please visit


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We cannot be truly alive without....

Deathwalker Training



Sept 30 - Oct 2, 2022

(now full)


Oct 21 - Oct 23, 2022

These will be Zenith's last

in-person Deathwalker Training in NZ. 

more info

Zenith Virago

Deathwalker, EO & Founder of the Natural Death Care Centre (NDCC)

Zenith is a maverick pioneer, a Deathwalker, long committed to death cultural change. With 30 years of working with the dying and the bereaved, her work is grounded  in a deep respect for people’s courage and capacity. She brings rich & varied experience, personal sustainability, wise learnings from her work, and a lightness of being in love of the mystery we are all a part of.


Living Well As A Practice For Dying Well

In this wise and provocative talk, Zenith will challenge and encourage us to radically rethink our relationship with death. She says 'Death is not a failure, it is the natural and sacred end of our lives, a transformational rite of passage.'

Zenith has assisted hundreds of people to radically rethink their death journey and their relationship with loss, to create more meaningful and beneficial experiences, and open to discovery and creativity within the great mystery.




FILM:                FILM:      

BOOK: The Intimacy of Death and Dying


Rev. Meghan Don

Death Guide, Interfaith Minister and Mentor

Meghan had her first personal encounter with death through love. As her life was being violently threatened she found herself standing to the side of her body. Calmly she watched her imminent death unfolding. Events turned and she survived, and so her journey with death began.


Meghan teaches how to be with your loved ones when they are dying, and how to emotionally and spiritually prepare for your own death. She also helps souls with their death journey in the other realms once they have physically died.



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Maintaining an awareness of death


Coming To Death

Through Love And Presence


Meghan will speak to us about her first personal encounter with death. What it was like to be out of her body and to watch her death unfolding; what she learned from this encounter and how we view the way death should or shouldn’t happen. A sneak preview - this encounter tells like an Italian tragic-love story for that is what it was!


Meghan will also share experiences of tending to her own mother’s dying and how she found that her own inner loving and sacred presence was the greatest guide. She also discovered we all have loving death guides to help us, both here and beyond.


And lastly, you will hear some extraordinary stories of souls who have physically died and what they wish to teach us.

Rev. Meghan's

post-conference workshops

Saturday, Sept 24th

Dying To Each Moment

9:30 - 12:30

Sunday, Sept 25th

Meeting Your Death Guides

10am - 4pm

more info

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Meghan is an award-winning author. Her latest book Feminine Courage is available through Amazon



Death is not waiting for us at the end of a long road

Home Death Care



Level 1:

Sunday, Sept 25 

Level 2:

Monday, Sept 26 

more info


Claire Turnham, MBE

Home Funeral Guide

and Death Care Educator

Claire Turnham MBE is mother of four, the Founder of Only with Love, and Co-Director of Manaaki Mats.


Claire is internationally recognised as a leading Home Death Care Practitioner, Educator and Advisor.  Since caring for her own father at home after he died in 2008, she discovered that her great grandmother was called on to help lay people out in their 'front rooms' almost a 100 years ago. Back then, within the UK and elsewhere it was the tradition for all families to care for their own at home after death, regardless of the circumstances.  Claire feels intuitively that death and dying still belong with families, and is passionate about sharing her skills, knowledge and experiences to help others. 


Since setting up her OWL practice in the UK in 2014 Claire has presented regularly at international conferences and been invited to teach gentle care of the body in hospices and communities around the world.


Claire is a founder member of the Home Funeral Network in the UK and AHFA, the newly formed Australian Home Funeral Alliance. Within NZ, she is currently consulting with regional communities, co-ordinating a national compassionate communities collective and co-developing training for the use of Manaaki Mats in homes and hospitals for use in stillbirth and beyond. 


In 2016 Claire was awarded Runner Up Green Funeral Director of the Year and was Commended for her OWL Funeral Services at the 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 UK Good Funeral Awards. More recently Claire has been honoured by Amnesty International for her campaigning and advocacy work and awarded an MBE for her services to Consumer Rights.


Home Death Care

A home funeral is a time-honoured way of families caring for their own loved ones after death. It provides families with a slowed down, carefully planned for, more affordable, hands-on experience.

Not long ago, families were completely responsible for the preparation and burial of loved ones’ bodies after death – it was considered an ancient art, an honour, an act of respect and compassion and a very natural part of the grieving process.

Claire will introduce the possibility that we are the best ones to take care of our loved ones in death.

Jacqueline Mitchell

Spirit Whisperer and Psychic Medium

Jacqueline Mitchell is very comfortable spending time with the dead. From an early age she has been able to receive messages from the deceased loved ones and communicate these to the living.


Jacqueline is a full-time Psychic Medium with clients all over the world. She offers detailed insights on people’s lives and a wider context for problems and tricky situations. She brings in real time guidance and advice from our ancestors, guides and loved ones and conveys it in a very

down-to-earth style.




Touching Heaven

Jacqueline will be sharing insights and revelations she has received in conversations with her guides about life beyond the physical.

This is a spiritual and philosophical presentation on the nature of our existence: how we live again and again, why we want there to be something beyond human life, our purpose and why we are here, why loved ones want to connect and how we can stay in touch with them.

If you are new to work exploring

Non-ordinary Death Experiences we invite you

to listen with the open mind of a curious explorer.



Death is always with us...

Touching Heaven




Sept 28

9am - 4pm

more info



Dr. Kathryn L. Smith

General Practitioner and

Physician Assisted Dying Practitioner the marrow of every passing moment


Physician Assisted Dying, When A Doctor Helps You Let Go of Life

We have new laws making it possible in certain circumstances to have medical support in dying. But how many of us understand how this works and what it's really like? For the patient, for the patient's family and friends, for the doctor?


New Zealanders are at the edge of this new frontier; whether we are in favour of it, against it, neutral or undecided - much can be gained from exploring the risks and benefits more deeply.  

MBChB, FRNZCGP, PGDip Obstetrics, PGDip Paediatrics, PGDip Com Em Med, PGDip Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, DSAC, Accredited member of MEDSAC


Kathryn is based in Queenstown. Originally from Taranaki, she grew up in West Auckland and is a graduate of Otago University where she studied medicine. Her experience is focused on general practice, accident and medical, women’s and reproductive health, sexual health, sexual assault care, relationship work and sexual problems, mental health and self-worth, gender diversity care, LGBTIQ and family health.


When Kathryn’s not at work she enjoys skiing, cycling, running, swimming, yoga, hiking, food and wine, and spending time with her two  adult children.


To connect further with Dr. Smith, you can find her at the Queenstown Medical Centre:


(Physicians who wish to discuss training for Medically Assisted Dying, please email her directly at )


Marla Hughes, M.A.

Interviews With Innocence

Marla has a Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology and has worked with children her entire life. Marla worked in the paediatric transplant unit at UCSF Hospital in San Francisco, and at the Center for Attitudinal Healing founded by Dr. Gerald Jampolsky, using art and music therapy to help young children who had life-threatening diseases or who had a parent or loved one who was severely ill.

Marla is on the CHARM board, Child Health and Resilience Mastery:, and volunteers her time at Camp Druzy. This camp supports children and adults grieving a death or separation from a close family member by offering transformative sessions which provide first-hand experiences that awaken joy, empower healing, and strengthen resilience for participants—all at no cost to families. 


Marla also is Founder of the Ethiopian Family Fund,, helping mothers and young children in Ethiopia.  She travels to Addis Ababa and Aleto Wondo regularly.


Five years ago, Marla’s 19 year old son transitioned.  This tragedy broke her heart open as it did for the family.  She went searching herself and soon realised that she must help others learn that there is truly no death.  She created a popular podcast called 'Interviews with Innocence,' which explores the big questions such as 'What is the meaning of life?' and 'Are life and love eternal?' She does this by sharing her interviews with scientists, philosophers, medical doctors, shamans, mediums, neuroscientists and many more.  Her esteemed guest list includes  Dr. Raymond Moody, Dr. Eben Alexander, Dr. Marjorie Woollacott, Dr. Pim Van Lommel, Dr. Tony Cicoria, James VanPraagh, Dr. Bruce Greyson and many more. 


Marla just published her first children’s book, Love Magic, a book for adults and children about how we can always connect with our loved ones no matter where they are. 


You can visit her website

or search on Facebook



She is the secret teacher


Tune into Marla's wide range of inspiring interviews on her podcast above.



Discovering the Meaning of Life And The Evidence of Life After Life

Love Magic is Marla's beautiful childrens' book which teaches children that those we love are always with us.

Marla will be sharing the wisdom she has gathered from personal experiences with physical and evidential mediumship, shamanism, plant medicine, meditation, her work in Ethiopia and working with the very young.  She will also share the transformational knowledge she has gathered about NDEs, shared death experiences, channeling, past lives of children and adults and much more.

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