ANZASW celebrates International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

ANZASW is pleased to acknowledge and celebrate International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples 2020 which took place yesterday (Sunday 9 August). The theme, as set by the UN, for this year’s celebration is Covid-19 and Indigenous People’s Resilience. The theme hopes to recognise the knowledge and understanding that indigenous peoples around the world have in regard to the relationship between our natural environments and human health. More information on the day can be found through the following link

The below video is from a presentation to the IFSW General Meeting from Robyn Corrigan and Shannon Pakura on the formation of the International Indigenous Commission that took place in July this year. ANZASW is proud to recognise the Commission as an Aotearoa New Zealand led initiative and commends all those involved throughout the development of the International Indigenous Commission.

With the mission of the Indigenous Commission as ‘A Place for Indigenous Social Workers to Stand Strong’ the formation of this Commission will ensure that indigenous bodies of knowledge, values and beliefs will be present and influential in matters and decisions of IFSW. The International Indigenous Commission will have the mandate to advise, support, and provide a unique view to the IFSW Executive Leadership Team, Committees and other Commissions on matters important to members, including indigenous members.

The establishment of an International Indigenous Commission represents a significant milestone for IFSW towards being a more inclusive membership association and will facilitate and strengthen the status of indigenous social work, bodies of knowledge, perspectives and indigenous associations within IFSW.



Please see the below collection of accounts from social workers as they reflect on what International Day of the World’s Indigenous People means for them this year. A special thank you to those that took the time to be part of this.

Dr Paul’e Ruwhiu

Ngāpuhi, Ngātiporou

Lecturer at Massey University, School of Social Work

“This is the time where indigenous peoples can come together collectively and globally to help support one another on their quest for decolonisation. A time to reclaim, revitalise and re-establish our own traditional paradigms. It is a time for remembrance for those who have gone before us and have contributed to where we are today.”

“Social Workers need to realign themselves within their own practice and think about how they contribute to hegemonic and racial systems. They need to think strongly about social change as a decolonising practice and promote social justice.”

“As we move into challenging times, we need to consider how we contributed and how we still are contributing to the negative impact on the environment. We must embrace a decolonising change and re-build to reflect a society that embraces diversity and a positive relationship with the environment.”


Shannon Pakura

Te Atihaunui a Paparangi

Social Worker

“International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is a day for acknowledging, remembering and thanking all those (past and present) who lobby, challenge and hold fast to the Kaupapa for  the recognition of indigenous entitlement,  protection of land, our environment and our other valuable ecosystems. It is a time to connect, enjoy and value indigenous humour, conversations and teachings.”

“As social workers we can reflect on the importance of belonging, having a place to stand and call home. Be mindful that when engaging with indigenous peoples that every indigenous person has and carries  a responsibility to protect our environment, culture and tikanga for those who come after us.”

“I encourage all New Zealand social workers to think about how the newly formed International Indigenous Commission within IFSW can support and enhance the work undertaken here in Aotearoa New Zealand.”


Peter Mataira

Ngati Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu, Rongowhakaata

Associate Professor of Social Work, Hawaii Pacific University, Honolulu, Hawaii

Co-chair of the World Indigenous Nations Universities – Hawaii Pasifika.

“International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples 2020 is a time of deep remembrance and emboldened hope. A time to reflect and look to the great mountain ranges, or the vast expanse of the ocean, or into the eyes of our tamariki mokopuna and understand what courage and sacrifice of the many who have given much, means. It is a time to look to the horizon as we continue the struggle. And, in the inspiring words of the late great John Lewis, it means to “not get lost in a sea of despair.” He reminds us to “Be hopeful, be optimistic”, noting “Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime.” Lewis eloquently ends by reminding us to “Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”

“The World is currently suffering the worst, social, economic, health and moral crisis in living memory. International Day of Indigenous People ought to be a reminder to every global leader, to the scientific community and to governments that Indigenous communities hold keys to ancestral knowledge, life-sustaining wisdom and cultural traditions that can help guide humanity back to a sense of decency and civility and begin to heal and restore Papatūānuku back to her state of healthiness.

While COVID-19 has literally brought every nation to its knees, there is hope, virtue and understanding in respecting that Breath (Hā), is Sacred. As my dear colleague, Elizabeth “Eli” Sumida Huaman, a Peruvian Quechua woman and Associate Professor of Education at the University of Minnesota, shared in a recent blog, “When did the breath of life start to kill? As Quechua people, we are taught about the power of one’s breath. The fresh Andean air that we take in is a gift that we have been given to live in this world. Each breath is a reminder that we are alive and most importantly, that with our aliveness comes a responsibility to do good with each thought and each physical movement fuelled by this breath. Our breath is powerful because it holds the ability to offer thanks, express reverence and awe, to transfer strength and healing, and to carry the words that we ask to make change through prayer.”

Eli ends powerfully by stating “Take a moment. Sit still. Listen. Do you hear the sound of your own breath? Where governments fail, you will not. You still have something to give your loved ones and the world in each breath of life. For those whose breath is leaving them through no fault of their own, offer them your hopeful breath from where you are. With each inhalation, accept the responsibility to do better, and with each exhalation remember our shared humanity and love. Never stop askingWhat will you do with your breath?

Sumida Huaman, E. 30 March 2020. “When humanity fails: A hopeful reminder.” AGITATE! Blog:

“Tihei Mauriora!”


ANZASW would again like to acknowledge International Day of the World’s Indigenous People for 2020. We encourage our members to reflect on how they might further incorporate indigenous knowledge and models into their social work practice.