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