Conference Reports

2014 – Christchurch
2013 – Kapiti

2014 Laughter Conference at EPIC Centre, Christchurch, 13 – 14 September

Brief report by Bob Harvey – 19 October, 2014.


Conference Logo

The second Aotearoa / New Zealand Laughter Conference took place on 13th and 14th September, 2014, in Christchurch, our city of disaster. All credit must go to Hannah and her crew, who created a fabulous weekend in spite of the destruction and dislocation of infrastructure still present so many years later. The energy level on both days was amazingly high, from the opening to the closing Karakia. A bevy of presenters, from a wealth of expertise, took us through the numbers, the research, the lessons, and the experiences of delivering wellbeing into the community.

The Conference theme was wellness through laughter. Presenters and their topics were: Hannah Airey on Laughter: the glue of humanity and also Laughter for people working in mental health and support services; Merv Neal on The Science Behind Laughter Yoga; Corallie Winn on Playing in the Gaps: city-making in Christchurch; Carsten Grimm on The Five Ways to Wellbeing: improving your wellbeing can be fun!; Pat Armitstead on What it Means to be Fully Self Expressed; Lisa Tui on Laughing and Singing; Stephen Archer on Mindfulness; Gareth Edwards on Positive Thinking; Olli Ricken on Laughing and Performing; and Linda Woodgate on Destress Practically. Added to which were two laughter sessions and the Saturday night’s entertainment, which included the Dance-O-Mat to our great delight, despite the slight drizzle!

My personal summary of the Conference follows – all errors and omissions are mine.

Again and again, from their widely different perspectives, the presenters showed how laughter, even pretend laughter, while it may not directly cure problems, assists enormously with the cure; though it doesn’t solve problems it helps dissolve them. So it is a complementary modality, with specific benefits for stress, depression and anxiety, so commonplace today. These stresses flood the body with cortisol and adrenaline, whereas laughter gives us the endorphins and serotonins which boost our immune system and make us feel so much better.

Your genetic heritage defines about 50% of your ability to cope with life; another 10% comes from the circumstances in which you find yourself; the remaining 40% is that portion potentially under your control. This is the area of life skills, where laughter can directly contribute to your wellbeing. Remember that your head brings creativity, your heart brings compassion, and your solar plexus brings courage. All three contribute to a full life. And be aware that nobody’s life is under control – all you can do is take one breath at a time, then the next, and the next.

What is important is to say “No!” to negativity. The events that occur in your life, especially those up to age 7, get filed away in your personal filing system, indexed by multiple keys: words, smells, colours, moods, etc. But you are in control of the files and can choose to remove an item from the system when it is no longer useful – you can press Delete. So when you are angry for example, be Aware of the anger, Acknowledge the anger as something from your files, and Accept that it may no longer be a useful defence, so it can be deleted. And laughter is the energy which helps you become aware, helps you acknowledge, and helps you accept and thus transcend what life throws at you.

Overall the emphasis was on connecting, giving, taking notice, keeping on learning, and being active in your life. Conclusion: the more you laugh, the better you get!

Back to Top

2013 Laughter Conference at Emerald Glen Homestead, Kapiti, 28-30 June.

Report by Lynda Andrews – 10 July, 2013.

What a fantastic 1st NZ Laughter Yoga Conference…!

We laughed and laughed. We sat and listened intently to our truly inspiring presenters. We connected at heart level and were moved to tears. We discovered amazing talent amongst us and had a brilliant party on the Saturday evening. And we were thrilled when Dr Kataria took the time to talk to us via Skype. Everyone felt nurtured, nourished and went home with new ideas, wisdom and for some it was a life changing event!

Group shot - thumbs up(2013)

People from all over New Zealand came to the Kapiti Coast on 28-30 June 2013 to enjoy the the 1st NZ Laugher Yoga Conference. We were very honoured to host Merv Neal and Kat Leigh from Australia as well as Amazon Nasuko Yamaguchi and Koruchan, Toshio Koruda from Japan. Master Trainers, Teachers and Leaders mixed and mingled with a good number of people who were completely new to Laughter Yoga.

It was wonderful to have three very different Laughter Yoga Sessions. The first one was facilitated by Hannah Airey who is an experienced Laughter Yoga Teacher from The Giggles in Christchurch. She enabled us to experience Laughter Yoga in its purest form taking us on a journey of laughing, clapping, stretching and yogic breathing and finishing with a classic Yoga Nidra. Jude Rosario is a very enthusiastic Laughter Yoga Leader from Otaki on the Kapiti Coast. She facilitated the second session, and although crowded and sometimes creatively chaotic, she enabled everyone to experience Laughter Club in its most joyous form. And finally, Amazon Nasuko Yamaguchi, a Master Trainer from Tokyo, took the last session and moved us to tears with her story and to delight with her Japanese Laughter exercises.

Merv & Amazon - happy(2013)

Our presenters were fabulous! Some were Laughter Yogis, others were brought in to widen and deepen our understanding of our health, our bodies and our hearts. Merv Neal, as the CEO of Laughter Yoga Australia and New Zealand, was a very entertaining and efficient MC for the whole event. His heartfelt personal story moved some to tears and the research he shared by Deakin University in Australia for Workplace Wellness confirmed to us the importance of laughing everyday. And, one fact I personally found fascinating was that the simple, playful childlike chant we do: “Very good! Very good! Yay!!” raises self-esteem by 9% – how grrrrreat is that?

Bob Harvey, a Laughter Yoga Teacher from Auckland, entertained and educated people about his experiences with the Ponsonby Laughter Club and masterfully handled questions from the floor. Adrienne Wood, from Auckland was new to Laughter Yoga, and she was talking to us about our hearts, in her presentation called Matters of the Heart. As a licensed Resilient Educator Instructor through the Institute of HeartMath, she gave an intriguing and fascinating talk with a practical demonstration on how we can align ourselves through our hearts, feelings and knowing, to create peace and calmness in our hearts and minds which then in turn radiates out and affects others we come into contact with.

And then, it was the turn of Pat Armitstead from Auckland. She is well-known in NZ as being a Joyologist and her presentation entitled Good Grief: The Meaning of Loss was very poignant, courageous and inspiring. She encouraged everyone to engage with their emotions and to be their true selves. Lynnette Ward, from just down the road in Raumati, is a Laughter Yoga student and also a talented artist in her own right. Everyone really enjoyed a very practical, creative and meditative hour of Zenlynes and all went home with the fruits of their labours. One person was so inspired she sat up till 2am that evening creating her own art – wow!

Vicki, Amazon, Linda, Pat & Rob(2013)

Rob Hamill arrived at noon, after driving 6 hours from Raglan to get to us. He is a well-known man in NZ, and an Olympic Rower. He had an incredible tale to tell about his brother. The title of his presentation was Anything is Possible! His courage, tenacity and his ability to step into the unknown combined with his deep and enduring love of his brother had everyone riveted. From the feedback I received afterwards, his presentation affected many people very deeply. Rob also took part in Lynnette’s Zenlyne session and Jude’s Laughter Yoga Session, and being completely new to Laughter Yoga, he too, like everyone else was enthused and inspired by what he experienced!

To get the party atmosphere going for our Talent Show and Party on the Saturday night, I had invited a beautiful man called Irie Blue to come and play his Caribbean steel drum and music for us. Very quickly we dressed in all our festive finery and joined him to sing and dance. When the party hooters came out, it was a riot of joyful noise and we finished with the Limbo Dance! And then we pulled up our chairs and the Talent Show began. The stage was set with sparkles and streamers and for the next couple of hours we were again on an emotional rollercoaster of laughter and tears as individuals, couples and groups jumped up and opened their hearts to us, revealing themselves in all their glory!

Sunday morning dawned and it was my turn to present. I was helped by my husband John, and together we opened the day with a musical experiment in The Sound of Joy. Everyone was wonderful in their co-operation of forming a Perfect Circle of Sound, using the ancient Solfeggio scale of music. The effect of our musical experiment was instant and profound, and later in the week at Laughter Club I discovered people were still feeling the effects of being part of this resonance healing. Debbie Love, a Laughter Yoga Leader from Paraparaumu, followed with a short presentation entitled Winning Corporate Clients. She is involved in motivating business women in the Wellington area and she was very clear about her purpose and direction.

Warming up for party(2013)

Hannah Airey, then talked about Laughter and Mental Health. Since the earthquakes in Christchurch, Hannah has been very busy helping people through the aftermath of these devastating events. Many people in the room related to and were inspired by what she had to say. Linda Guirey from Auckland made a huge impression on everyone with her presentation entitled Making the Choice to DO something NOW and making a difference in your Life. She was new to Laughter Yoga, and yet after all her experiences over the weekend, she now sees how she can practically bring more laughter into her future presentations. Once again, everyone was intently listening and taking in her wisdom and her amazing personal story.

And then to finish, Merv Neal opened the discussion: The Future of Laughter Yoga. Many thoughts were shared and to find out, I encourage everyone to get the film we are creating and editing right now of the 1st NZ Laughter Yoga Conference. It will be available by September 2013. This will include the Presentations along with the Talent Show and Party. We are making a separate film containing the three Laughter Yoga Sessions, as we feel they would be useful for training purposes. All you will need to do to get your copies in September is to go to – click on Shop. [Unfortunately, owing to technical difficulties, these videos are not available.]

And so to our 2nd NZ Laughter Yoga Conference…. It will be held somewhere magical in New Zealand sometime in 2014. Details will be finalized soon, so make sure you keep a space open in your diary, when we know the dates and come to our Little Piece of Paradise to once again… Be enthused, entertained and inspired! See you there! He he he!

Back to Top