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Gabrielle Sex­ton-McDe­vitt, works as a nurse and Maori healer and lives in Koutu in the Hokianga, with her hus­band John, a sales project man­ager, three dogs, a cat, a mini horse and 22 chooks.

I tell peo­ple I was called here by the wairua, spir­i­tu­ally led. I’m from the East Coast, but for years I lived in Auck­land and I’d come up here – I’d bring my chil­dren – and I felt that some­thing was pulling me here. I felt an in­ner-strength and safety here.

John and I bought a sec­tion, an acre, and I knew a change was com­ing. I was train­ing in Maori heal­ing. It was time for me to be free of Auck­land, to be sep­a­rated from the clut­ter and the noise of the city so I could be fo­cused on what I was learn­ing.

My hus­band has com­muted be­tween here and Auck­land for five years – he’s a fab­u­lous sup­port, an awe­some hus­band.

Liv­ing in the Hokianga is a pow­er­ful ex­pe­ri­ence. The first Maori ex­plorer, Kupe the nav­i­ga­tor, landed here. It’s a priv­i­lege to be a part of that his­tory.

I’ve be­come more in­de­pen­dent up here. I had to learn to live by my­self for 80 per cent of the week.

I work for an iwi provider as a tra­di­tional Maori healer, a reg­is­tered nurse and a smok­ing ces­sa­tion coach. It’s my dream job. Nurs­ing is law, and tra­di­tional Maori heal­ing is lore. My main role is stop­ping peo­ple smok­ing. I use my nurs­ing skills and, if peo­ple want it, I use tra­di­tional Maori herbs as well.

I have seen peo­ple who’ve been smok­ing since they were 11 give up. I call my clients my su­per­heroes.

We bought the house up from Auck­land. I wanted a house that you don’t re­ally see, that just blends with the out­side. The out­side comes in, the in­side goes out.

Hav­ing the ocean right there gives me a con­stant feel­ing of change. A flow and ebb. It’s al­ways fresh. Sex­ton-McDe­vitt and two friends have a busi­ness shar­ing in­dige­nous prod­ucts and skills, sis­tersindige­nous.com. In­ter­view/ Emily Simp­son Pho­to­graph/ Jessie Cas­son

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