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....

Dr. Lotte Valentin

Physician N.M.D., author and psychic evidential medium

Dr. Ann Charlotte Valentin is an N.M.D., author, evidential medium, psychic, spiritual educator, as well as a dynamic inspirational public speaker!

‘I knew I was dying. The first thing I noticed was that I was still alive. I was still there, just outside my body!’ This was the reaction of Dr. Lotte as she came close to death in the ER in 1992. Before having her near-death experiences, Dr. Lotte was an atheist. Two years later as she struggled to heal, she again left her body, which resulted in a spiritual transformation and the activation of her life path.

In 2012 at the age of 54, she was guided to leave her job as a sales manager in the bio-tech industry in San Francisco and moved to Tempe, Arizona to attend medical school.

Dr. Lotte is eager to share what she has learned and show others that it is never too late to transform one’s life path. Dr. Lotte lives in Phoenix, Arizona, where she operates her Centre for Integrative Medicine as well as her Spiritual Centre, Divine Spiritual Essence.



Intuition & Spirituality in Modern Healthcare

Michael Hempseed

Author, TEDx Speaker &

Mental Health Educator

Michael Hempseed is the author of the book, Being A True Hero: Understanding and Preventing Suicide in Your Community. After delivering an inspiring Ted Talk on overcoming failure he has gone on to become a highly sought-after professional speaker. In the last two years Michael has delivered more than 300 seminars on topics such as overcoming failure, mental illness and suicide prevention.

To connect further with Michael, you can find him at

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maintaining an awareness of death


Suicide Prevention:

Everyone has a role


Funny and full of enthusiasm Michael’s talks are always informative and engaging.


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

Mark Longley

Journalist & Editor at Newshub

Mark Longley was born and raised in London and moved to New Zealand in 2005 with his family. He is a journalist and editor at Newshub, and lives in Auckland with his daughter Hannah and two sons. He is also a trustee of the White Ribbon trust, which is helping end male violence towards women. 


In May 2011 his eldest daughter Emily was murdered by her boyfriend after a short but increasingly violent relationship. 

Emily was a bright, vivacious girl and her death almost destroyed Mark. For a long time he felt he would never move through the huge cloud of grief that encompassed him. 


In 2019, after a long time thinking about it Mark decided to examine death and grief in a podcast called Death: Love Grief and Hope. The 3-part series looks at his personal journey and questions why many of us are so ill-equipped to deal with grief. It is often a taboo subject but is something that affects us all.

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Death - Love Grief & Hope

Today Mark shares his experience of grief to help us understand the process so we can better help others or ourselves.  


‘This is the story of loving and losing my daughter. I will share how I learned to reinvest in life and how I found a way to manage my grief. Everybody grieves differently and there is no one-size-fits all answer to dealing with it, however I hope this helps people realise there is a way through.’

Kirsty Salisbury

NDE Speaker, Podcaster & Coach

Kirsty Salisbury is a speaker, podcaster and coach who speaks straight from her heart. Since a Near Death Experience at 12 years of age, Kirsty has been determined to live a very full life, and to help as many people in the process as possible. Through her podcast ‘Let’s Talk Near Death’ Kirsty shares personal stories of life, death, and experiences in between.


Outside of her podcast, her talks explore the topics of death, resilience, regrets, and how we can create opportunity through effective habits. Today, Kirsty blends her experience as an established wellness professional, her private coaching business, and her research in the areas of resilience, habits, and long term happiness to help empower others with practical tools and strategies to embrace living at their best. 


2018 WINNER of the PSANZ Fast Track Scholarship Award 

2020 WINNER of the PSANZ Bright Star Emerging Speaker of the Year Award


To connect further with Kirsty, you can find her at:



Death is always with us...

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Kirsty will be talking on the topic of Near Death Experiences.  She will not only share snippets of her own experience, but the themes and similarities that she has seen emerge from interviewing and connecting first hand with thousands of experiencers worldwide


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Sue Dwan

Business Coach

Sue Dwan is a highly experienced change agent, management and business coach, personal management trainer and educational writer with the following qualifications: an M.B.A; Grad CELT; Professional Certified Coach (PCC); CoachU Certified Graduate (CUCG); RSP-Trained Retirement Coach. She is a Member of the International Coach Federation (ICF); and a Business Mentor (ChristchurchNZ).

Sue is also author of the Get Your Affairs in Order  guidebooks; The Kiwi Sisters’ Camino de Santiago; The Kiwi Sisters’ Camino Portugués; Techniques to Counter Common Time Thieves; and the Beginner’s Guide to Management. 

To connect further with Sue, you can find her at:


The Value of Planning Ahead

Statistics show few adults ever prepare themselves mentally, emotionally, or in any practical way for their eventual death. This typically results in significant work, stress and expense for loved ones left behind. An Advance Care Plan enables decisions to be made and recorded, before it is too late to do so.

Professor Amy Fletcher

Assoc Prof at the University of Canterbury

  • Bachelor of Arts (University of Tennessee)

  • Master of Arts (University of Georgia)

  • Doctor of Philosophy (University of Georgia)

My major research area is science, technology and environmental policy. I focus on the integration of the computer science and biotechnological sectors and the impact of exponential technological change on public policies and society.


My current specific interests include artificial intelligence/automation and employment, the impact of AI on the higher education sector, and disruptive biotechnologies in health and the environment.


        Research questions that I consider include:

  1. What happens after new technologies 'leave the lab' and enter society?

  2. What ethical and political challenges do new technologies pose?

  3. How can scientific and technological innovation be fostered through smart regulation and community engagement?

  4. What would it mean to ‘enhance’ humans with advanced technologies and what might be the political and ethical implications?


I also have an ongoing research interest in public engagement, science communication and methods for community engagement and scenario/foresight analysis.



She is the secret teacher


The Future of Death; Technology & Immortality


...hiding in plain sight

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Dr. Rachel Wiseman

Palliative Medicine Physician and Respiratory Physician

Rachel Wiseman qualified as both a Palliative Medicine Physician and a Respiratory Physician in 2012. She currently holds a joint position in both Respiratory and Palliative Medicine in Christchurch Hospital, NZ. 

Having trained in the UK, Rachel fell in love with New Zealand when she (and her now husband) arrived in 2004. Despite only intending to visit for 6 months, she stayed and completed training, managing to miss out on the Christchurch earthquakes by spending 18 months working in Australia.

Rachel’s current interests are advanced COPD, dyspnoea, oxygen therapy and advance care planning.  She participates in the motor neuron disease service for Canterbury and West Coast District Health Boards.  In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her 2 young children, mountain biking, tramping and skiing.


Euthanasia - A Deeper Look