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Aked, J., Marks, N., Cordon, C., & Thompson, S. (2008). New Economics Foundation. 

The evidence emerging from the UK Foresight Challenge Reports indicates that social relationships are critical for promoting well-being and for acting as a buffer against mental ill health. This seems to be the case for people across all ages. 

Evidence supporting the ‘5 Ways to Wellbeing’

(2022). Royal Melbourne Hospital. 

This resource outlines the following points relating to the importance of connection:

  • Friendship is one of the highest positive correlations with self-rated happiness. 

  • People with stronger social relationships have a 50% increased likelihood of survival from conditions such as coronary vascular disease and cancer. 

  • The magnitude of having good social relationships is comparable with quitting smoking, and it exceeds many well-known risk factors for mortality (e.g. obesity, physical inactivity). 

  • The most significant difference between those with mental ill health and those without is social participation. 

Helen Clark Foundation work on loneliness 

Holly Walker at the Helen Clark Foundation looked at loneliness in NZ twice over the pandemic, and suggested the following elements (some of which relate to aspects of “connection”) be incorporated into a policy response:   

  • Help communities do their magic  

  • Create friendly streets and neighbourhoods  

  • Prioritise those already lonely  

  • Invest in frontline mental health services. 

Walker, H. (2020). The Helen Clark Foundation 

Walker, H. (2021). The Helen Clark Foundation. 

The Association between Neighbourhood Social Capital and Adolescent Self-reported Wellbeing: A Multilevel Analysis

Aminzadeh, K. (2012). [Unpublished thesis, University of Auckland].

The aim of this research is to assess the relationship between neighbourhood social capital and adolescent subjective wellbeing in New Zealand, and its interaction with adolescents’ socioeconomic status. 

Social Relationships and Health: The Toxic Effects of Perceived Social Isolation: Social Relationships and Health

Cacioppo, J. T., & Cacioppo, S. (2014). Social and Personality Psychology Compass,8(2), 58–72.

Evidence indicates that loneliness heightens sensitivity to social threats and motivates the renewal of social connections, but it can also impair executive functioning, sleep, and mental and physical well-being. Together, these effects contribute to higher rates of morbidity and mortality in lonely older adults.

How Your Friends Can Influence Your Heart Health

(2019, September 25). Blue Zones

While heart health is greatly impacted by your lifestyle, there more factors, maybe even “softer” factors, that also predict heart disease. This post discusses the Roseto effect, which suggests that positive social factors may reduce the incidence of heart disease.   

Does the Quantity of Social Interactions Affect Happiness?

Markman, A. (2018, October). Psychology Today.

This post discusses the research by Mehle et al., 2010 and Milek et al., 2018. The author concludes that “spending time around other people is a benefit. Even ordinary interactions may reinforce your bond to other people, which can make you happier and more satisfied with your life.” 

An active and socially integrated lifestyle in late life might protect against dementia

Fratiglioni, L., Paillard-Borg, S., & Winblad, B. (2004). The Lancet: Neurology, 3, (6), June: 343-353. 

This review systematically analyses the published longitudinal studies exploring the effect of social network, physical leisure, and non-physical activity on cognition and dementia and then summarises from the current evidence that an active and socially integrated lifestyle in late life protects against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The link between self-esteem and social relationships: A meta-analysis of longitudinal studies

Harris, M. A., & Orth, U. (2020). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 119(6), 1459–1477. 

The findings of this study suggest that the link between people’s social relationships and their level of self-esteem is truly reciprocal in all developmental stages across the life span, reflecting a positive feedback loop between the constructs.

Why Social Relationships Are Important for Physical Health: A Systems Approach to Understanding and Modifying Risk and Protection

Holt-Lunstad, J. (2018). Annual Review of Psychology, 69. 

Social relationships are adaptive and crucial for survival. This review presents existing evidence indicating that our social connections to others have powerful influences on health and longevity and that lacking social connection qualifies as a risk factor for premature mortality.

How to Be a More Effective Listener (and What’s in it For You)

(2019, October 29). Blue Zones

There is truth to the maxim that a great conversationalist is a good listener. When we’re in the presence of an active listener, we feel heard, valued, and attended to. 

The impact of social activities, social networks, social support and social relationships on the cognitive functioning of healthy older adults: A systematic review

Kelly, M. E., Duff, H., Kelly, S., McHugh Power, J. E., Brennan, S., Lawlor, B. A., & Loughrey, D. G. (2017). Systematic Reviews, 6:259.  

The results of this review support prior conclusions that there is an association between social relationships and cognitive function but the exact nature of this association remains unclear. Implications of the findings are discussed and suggestions for future research provided.

Holistic wellbeing 

New Zealand’s engagement with the Five Ways to Wellbeing: Evidence from a large cross-sectional survey

Mackay, L., Egli, V., Booker, L.-J., & Prendergast, K. (2019). Kōtuitui: New Zealand Journal of Social Sciences Online, 14(2), 230–244

A survey was undertaken with 10,012 adults throughout Aotearoa, New Zealand, to assess individual wellbeing and participation in the Five Ways to Wellbeing (Connect, Give, Take Notice, Keep Learning and Be Active). Wellbeing was assessed with the Flourishing Scale.

Relationship between volunteering and perceived general health of individuals with serious mental illness

Held, M. L., & Lee, S. (2020). Community Mental Health Journal, 56(2), 348–354

Volunteering has been found to be a significant predictor of improved health among the general population. Yet, little is known about the relationship between volunteering and perceived general health among individuals with serious mental illness. This study examined the extent to which volunteering is associated with perceived general health of individuals with serious mental illness. Study findings indicate that individuals who engage in volunteering are more likely to report better health status when compared to those who do not engage in volunteering.

Subjective wellbeing around the world: Trends and predictors across the life span

Jebb, A. T., Morrison, M., Tay, L., & Diener, E. (2020). Psychological Science, February. 

Using representative cross-sections from 166 nations (more than 1.7 million respondents), differences in three measures of subjective wellbeing over the life span were examined. Globally, and in the individual regions of the world, it was found that only very small differences in life satisfaction and negative affect. By contrast, decreases in positive affect were larger. 

Sleep duration and psychological wellbeing among New Zealanders

Lee, C. H., & Sibley, C. G. (2019). Sleep Health, 5(6), 606–614

This study identified the prevalence of short and long sleep duration and examine the relationship between sleep duration and psychological well-being among New Zealand adults. Participants were asked “during the past month, on average, how many hours of actual sleep did you get per night?”. Most New Zealanders reported having optimal sleep duration, but more than a third reported having short and 4.5% reported long sleep duration.

Are we making a difference in the lives of New Zealanders – how will we know?: A wellbeing measurement approach for investing for social wellbeing in New Zealand

Social Investment Agency. (2018). Social Investment Agency (SIA)

This working paper is written for analysts, policy advisors and social service providers to introduce the Social Investment Agency’s wellbeing measurement approach. 

Activities for flourishing: An evidence-based guide

VanderWeele, T. J. (2020). Journal of Positive Psychology and Wellbeing, 4 (1), 79-91.   

The paper reviews various evidence-based activities that can be easily employed to promote human flourishing. The evidence from numerous randomized trials has now established a number of do-it-yourself activities that can be used to improve various aspects of wellbeing. Moreover, various relational and institutional commitments can be voluntarily pursued which likewise have been shown to have substantial effects on wellbeing.

Social wellbeing.

Keyes, Corey Lee M. (1998). Social Psychology Quarterly, 61(2), 121.  

The proposal of five dimensions of social well-being, social integration, social contribution, social coherence, social actualization, and social acceptance, is theoretically substantiated 

Positive psychology interventions: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled studies.

Bolier, L., Haverman, M., Westerhof, G. J., Riper, H., Smit, F., & Bohlmeijer, E. (2013). BMC Public Health, 13, 119. 9

The results of this meta-analysis show that positive psychology interventions can be effective in the enhancement of subjective well-being and psychological well-being, as well as in helping to reduce depressive symptoms.

Wellbeing and mental distress in Aotearoa New Zealand: snapshot 2016.

Kvalsvig, A. (2018). Health Promotion Agency

This snapshot report summarises key findings from the 2016 Mental Health Monitor and 2016 Health and Lifestyles Survey. Participants reported that the experience of mental distress was common (personally or among people they knew) and that mental distress was more than depression and/or anxiety, and included feeling isolated, overwhelmed by stress and not being able to cope. Awareness of mental distress in self or others was associated with more positive attitudes but participants indicated a reluctance to disclose mental distress in some environments, such as workplaces. Social isolation (also known as loneliness) emerged as an important concern. It was strongly associated with depression, anxiety and other forms of distress, particularly among young people.

The health and wellbeing of Māori New Zealand secondary school students in 2012 = Te Ara Whakapiki Taitamariki, Youth’12.

Crengle, S., Clark, T., Robinson, E., Bullen, P., Dyson, B., Denny, S., … Adolescent Health Research Group. (2013). The University of Auckland.

This report presents Māori-specific findings from Youth’12, the third national health and wellbeing survey of secondary school students in New Zealand. This is New Zealand’s largest and most comprehensive survey of the health and wellbeing of taitamariki Māori in high schools. Included in the survey is a range of factors that impact on the healthy development of taitamariki Māori, including whānau/family, community, education and social environments. The information presented in this report was provided by 1,701 students who reported Māori ethnicity in 2012 (20% of the entire sample). Also reported are Māori data from the 2001, 2007 and 2012 surveys to identify trends over time.

2022: There are findings relating to rangatahi Māori from the Youth19 wave of this survey here: Harnessing the spark of life. (2022). Youth19 - A Youth2000 Survey. https://www.youth19.ac.nz/rangatahi-maori 

New Zealand Treasury Guest Lecture Series: Measuring Māori wellbeing.

Durie, M. (2006). Massey University.

Discusses aspects of Māori wellbeing and how to measure it. Presents a framework for measuring, incorporating 3 levels of wellbeing – individual, whānau, and population. Also discusses a matrix of outcomes, including wellbeing aspects of connection to culture, te reo and land.

Oho mauri: cultural identity, wellbeing, and tāngata whai ora/motuhake : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Māori Studies at Massey University, Wellington, Aotearoa/New Zealand

Pere, L. M. (2006). (Thesis, Massey University)

This study seeks to understand the experience of mental illness from the perspective of those it affects most- the consumer. In order to test the assumption that mental health depends as much on culture and identity as psycho-biology, Oho Mauri examines the worldviews of 17 Indigenous people – Māori - who have had experience of mental illness.

Te oranga hinengaro - Māori mental wellbeing: results from the New Zealand Mental Health Monitor & Health and Lifestyles Survey

Russell, L., (2018). Health Promotion Agency/Te Hiringa Hauora. 

Te Oranga Hinengaro uses Māori mental health data from three population surveys to highlight findings about whanaungatanga, and belonging, cultural connectedness and reconnection, and cultural identity for Māori mental wellbeing.

Te Kaveinga: Mental health and wellbeing of Pacific peoples: Results from the New Zealand Mental Health Monitor & Health and Lifestyles Survey

Ataera-Minster, J., & Trowland, H. (2018). Health Promotion Agency/Te Hiringa Hauora. 

Te Kaveinga presents results from the New Zealand Mental Health Monitor and the Health and Lifestyles Survey related to the mental health and wellbeing of Pacific peoples. Published by the Health Promotion Agency, Te Kaveinga is the first in-depth analysis of Pacific mental health using a nationally representative dataset since Te Rau Hinengaro, New Zealand’s last Mental Health Survey. Overall, the findings show that Pacific adults experience psychological distress at higher levels than non-Pacific adults. The findings also tell us that Pacific  peoples report high levels of wellbeing and family wellbeing, and are well connected socially and culturally.

Flourishing, positive mental health and wellbeing: how can they be increased? International Journal of Leadership in Public Services

Norriss, H. (2010). International Journal of Leadership in Public Services, 6(4), 46–50. 

The author (who is a former MHF member of staff) outlines the view of mental health in New Zealand, and presents an overview of factors that will influence this in the future, arguing that leadership is required to further a nation's positive mental health. Recent analysis is then presented on the concept of ‘flourishing’ in people and communities and how this has explored positive states of experience and functioning. The personal and social benefits that this approach can give as part of a full spectrum approach to mental health are considered. The Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand proposes a range of potential activities as examples that could contribute to an increase of flourishing and positive mental health in the wider New Zealand population.

Five Ways to Wellbeing: The evidence: A report presented to the Foresight Project on communicating the evidence base for improving people’s well-being. 

Aked, J., Marks, N., Cordon, C., & Thompson, S. (2008). Aked, J., Marks, N., Cordon, C., & Thompson, S. (2008). Centre for Wellbeing. New Economics Foundation. 

The New Economics Foundation is a people-powered think tank. It works to build an economy where people take control. This report documents the evidence base for each of the five ways to wellbeing.

Good for your soul? Adult learning and mental well‐being.

Field, J. (2009). International Journal of Lifelong Education, 28(2), 175–191 

This paper provides a background analysis of research into the relationship between adult learning and wellbeing. It notes that there is a general paucity of rigorous research that focuses specifically on this topic. Studies covered in the review include both those which examine the effects of adult learning upon factors that are directly relevant to wellbeing (such as self-efficacy, confidence, or the ability to create support networks), and those that address factors that are indirectly associated with wellbeing, such as earnings or employment. It argues that evidence from current research suggests that adult learning appears to have a positive, albeit qualified, effect on attitudes and behaviours that affect people’s mental wellbeing.

Giving leads to happiness in young children. 

Aknin, L. B., Hamlin, J. K., & Dunn, E. W. (2012). PLoS ONE, 7(6), e39211.

The study finds that before the age of two, toddlers exhibit greater happiness when giving treats to others than receiving treats themselves. Further, children are happier after engaging in ‘costly giving’’ - forfeiting their own resources - than when giving the same treat at no cost.

Volunteering predicts happiness among older Māori and non-Māori in the New Zealand health, work, and retirement longitudinal study. 

Dulin, P. L., Gavala, J., Stephens, C., Kostick, M., & McDonald, J. (2012). Aging & Mental Health, 16(5), 617–624. 

This study provides evidence that volunteering is related to increased happiness, irrespective of ethnicity. It also provides evidence that the relationship between volunteering and happiness is moderated by economic resources. Older individuals at the low end of the economic spectrum are likely to benefit more from volunteering than those at the high end.

Wellbeing literacy: A language-use capability relevant to wellbeing outcomes of positive psychology interventions

Oades, L. G., Ozturk, C., Hou, H., & Slemp, G. R. (2020). The Journal of Positive Psychology, 0(0), 1-5

Wellbeing literacy is a capability, rather than a positive psychology interventions per se. Wellbeing literacy may provide novel ways to consider two key challenges to positive psychology interventions justified by randomised controlled trials: (1) the problem of generalizability of skills and knowledge claims across contexts; and (2) the problem that gains from interventions are not sustained. 

Focus on Generosity – a discussion paper series – Community Research.

These NZ papers examine the benefits that stem from generosity for givers, receivers and the community as a whole.


A qualitative study into Pacific perspectives on cultural obligations and volunteering

Tamasese, T. K., Parsons, T. L., Sullivan, G., & Waldegrave, C. (2010). The Family Centre Social Policy Research Unit. 

This research explored Pacific people’s motivators and barriers to volunteering, and the relationship with their cultural obligations. It includes a series of “projects of pride” to illustrate each Pacific group’s perspective. 

An overview of mindfulness-based interventions and their evidence base

Mental Health Foundation. (2011).

This paper reflects on the merits of mindfulness to enhance our wellbeing, looks at mindfulness-based interventions, and the application of mindfulness in our education system.

Mindfulness in education: Evidence base and implications for Aotearoa/New Zealand. 

Mental Health Foundation. (2012).

This paper looks at what mindfulness is, how it works, mindfulness-based interventions, and evidence.

Research New Zealand. (2019). Ministry of Health NZ.  

This report presents the findings of the ninth survey in an on-going monitor of participants in the Green Prescriptions Active Families (Active Families) programme. As in previous years, the survey sought the views of participants about how well the programme worked for their child and family. Contains statistics. 

Does social connectedness promote a greater sense of well-being in adolescence over time? 

Jose, P. E., Ryan, N., & Pryor, J. (2012). Journal of Research on Adolescence, 22(2), 235–251.

The results suggest that youth who reported higher levels of social connectedness at one point in time would subsequently report higher wellbeing (i.e., life satisfaction, confidence, positive affect, and aspirations).

Evaluation of Know Your Neighbours: An initiative of Lifewise & Takapuna Methodist Church [executive summary]. 

Metzger, N., Myers, A., & Woodley, A. (2012). Lifewise

Findings suggest that Know Your Neighbours has contributed to creating stronger, connected and more inclusive neighbourhoods in North Shore communities. This includes increased feelings of safety and community (93 per cent) and a reduction in reported burglaries. Local street and neighbourhood events have contributed to residents’ feelings of wellbeing.

Social relations, health behaviors, and health outcomes: a survey and synthesis: social relations and health. 

Tay, L., Tan, K., Diener, E., & Gonzalez, E. (2013). Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 5(1), 28–78.

This analysis revealed that social relations are beneficial for health behaviours such as chronic illness self-management and decreased suicidal tendency. The salutary effects of general measures of social relations (e.g. being validated, being cared for, etc.) on health behaviours are weaker, but specific measures of social relations targeting corresponding health behaviours are more predictive. There is growing evidence that social relations are predictive of mortality and cardiovascular disease, and social relations play an equally protective role against both the incidence and progression of cardiovascular disease. On the other hand, evidence was mixed for the association between social relations and cancer.

Allpress, J., & Reid, A. (2021). Auckland Council.  

The primary objective of the survey is to measure residents’ perceptions across a range of measures that impact on New Zealanders’ quality of life. It contributes to public knowledge and research around quality of life and related factors in New Zealand. The results from the survey are used to help inform council policy and planning responses to population growth and change, as well as providing data for monitoring programmes. 

State of the Nation 2022. 

Barber, P., Tanielu, R., & Ika, A. (2022).  Salvation Army.  

Findings from the 15th edition of the State of the Nation report. Discusses social issues like drugs and alcohol. 

Helliwell, J. F., Layard, R., Sachs, J. D., De Neve, J.-E., Aknin, L. B., & Wang, S. (Eds.). (2022). Sustainable Development Solutions Network.  

Findings in the 2022 report confirm that average life evaluations, reflecting the net effects of offsetting negative and positive influences, have remained remarkably resilient during COVID-19. For the young, life satisfaction has fallen, while for those over 60, it has risen – with little overall change. Worry and stress have risen – by 8% in 2020 and 4% in 2021 compared with pre-pandemic levels. On the positive side, the most remarkable change seen during COVID-19 has been the global upsurge in benevolence in 2021.  COVID-19 has also demonstrated the crucial importance of trust for human well-being. [From Overview]. New Zealand is also included in this study.  

Hughes, T., & Cardona, D. (2022). NZ Treasury.  

This paper provides a high-level summary of some key trends in the indicators of wellbeing presented in the NZ Treasury’s Living Standards Framework Dashboard. 

Ipsos. (2021).  Ipsos.   

This survey explored the mental and physical wellbeing of New Zealanders, as well as perceptions surrounding mental illness and society. For the purpose of this survey we defined mental illness / health condition for respondents as an illness or condition that affects a person’s thoughts, feelings or behaviour. 

(2020). Te Hiringa Hauora/Health Promotion Agency.  

This insight report describes results from the 2018 New Zealand Mental Health Monitor and 2018/19 Ministry of Health New Zealand Health Survey.  The Mental Health in Aotearoa insight updates some existing information on the commonality of mental distress and population distribution of levels of mental distress, as well as presenting new findings. Throughout the analysis a theme of high mental distress in young people emerged. Our main findings include that the proportion of the adult population with high levels of mental distress is increasing over time and that general mental distress, anxiety and depressive symptoms are highest amongst young people. 

Fleming, T., Tiatia-Seath, J., Peiris-John, R., Sutcliffe, K., Archer, D., Bavin, L., Crengle, S., & Clark, T. (2021).  The Youth19 Research Group, The University of Auckland and Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.  

This report highlights the emotional and mental health findings from the Youth19 Rangatahi Smart Survey (Youth19) and highlights ways to support mental wellbeing for young people.  

Fleming, T., Ball, J., Bavin, L., Rivera-Rodriguez, C., Peiris-John, R., Crengle, S., Sutcliffe, K., Lewycka, S., Archer, D., & Clark, T. C. (2022).  Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 1–24.  

This study shows that health status and risks among New Zealand adolescents have changed dramatically over 20 years, with areas of large improvement. However, mental wellbeing requires urgent attention. 

New Zealand Treasury. (2022, April 12). The LSF Dashboard is a measurement tool that informs the Treasury’s wellbeing reporting and supports our advice to Ministers on priorities for improving wellbeing. 

New Zealand Treasury. (2022).  

The evidence indicates that New Zealand’s overall wellbeing has held up well during the COVID-19 pandemic.  New Zealand’s broad success in managing COVID-19 highlights the importance of resilience in preserving New Zealand’s current and future wellbeing, and the growing need to improve further our resilience to other shocks. [From webpage]. 

Wylie, C., & MacDonald, J. (2020). New Zealand Council for Educational Research.  

Every 3 years NZCER surveys principals, teachers, trustees, and parents at a random sample of English-medium primary schools to provide a national picture of what is happening in teaching and learning. This allows comparisons and tracking of how things change over time.  Chapter 2 of this report is: ’Student wellbeing and positive behaviour—Findings from the NZCER 2019 National survey of English-medium primary schools.pdf’. Most schools have an active focus on wellbeing. 

Te Whare Tapa Whā

Māori health models - Te Whare Tapa Whā

(2017). Ministry of Health NZ

The four cornerstones (or sides) of Māori health are whānau (family health), tinana (physical health), hinengaro (mental health) and wairua (spiritual health).

Rebuilding a ‘whare’ body of knowledge to inform ‘a’ Māori perspective of health

Heaton, S. (2015). MAI Journal, 4(2), 164–176

This article explores and expands the discourse around the whare tapa whā which has been depicted in New Zealand curricula and in educational literature as a contemporary Māori model of health, as a Māori perspective of health, as a Māori philosophy of hauora and as a four-sided meeting house.

Whare Tapa Whā: A Māori model of a unified theory of health

Rochford, T. (2004). Journal of Primary Prevention, 25(1), 41–57

Māori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, have suffered social and economic deprivation as a result of colonisation. Māori suffer worse health then their Pākehā (non- Māori) cohort. Māori are using their traditional worldview to develop a model of health that can be used as a holistic or unified theory of health. The model, Whare Tapa Wha, can be used as clinical assessment tool. The model is part of Māori seeking to regain control over our health services. It has supported the development of a Māori health sector, which has led to gains in both health and community development.


Ko takureotakuohooho, ko takureotakumapihimauria - Exploring Maori narrative identity development and the link to adolescent well-being.  

Myftari, E. (2015). [Unpublished thesis, University of Otago]. 

Telling a coherent, elaborate, and meaningful life story is a vital part of adolescent narrative identity development and of psychological well-being. The current research investigated the development of three levels of personality (narrative identity, dispositional traits and characteristic adaptations) for Māori adolescents in Aotearoa New Zealand. A finding is that connection to wider whānau is crucial for Māori wellbeing.

Ngā Hua a Tāne Rore: The Benefits of Kapa Haka

Pihama, L., Tipene, J., & Skipper, H. (2014). Manatū Taonga - Ministry of Culture & Heritage.

Kapa haka contributes to many aspects of NZ’s cultural, social and economic contexts. One of the many  components of kapa haka is its link to culture and Māori identity and whanaungatanga, the importance of people and connectedness. Waka ama plays a similar role. 

Manaaki Tāngata - The Secret to Happiness: Narratives from Older Māori in the Bay of Plenty

McDonald, M. (2016). Unpublished thesis. University of Auckland.

A Māori view of happiness includes various dimensions of connection: “happiness is viewed in a holistic way that enhances ‘mana’ and promotes a meaningful existence through Mana Atua A connection and commitment to the larger universe; Mana Tūpuna – Strengthened genealogical relationships; Mana Tangata – Realisation of human potential and Mana Whenua – Harmonious integration and unity with the environment. 

Gall, A., Anderson, K., Howard, K., Diaz, A., King, A., Willing, E., Connolly, M., Lindsay, D., & Garvey, G. (2021).  International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(11), 5832.  

Despite the health improvements afforded to non-Indigenous peoples in Canada, Aotearoa (New Zealand) and the United States, the Indigenous peoples in these countries continue to endure disproportionately high rates of mortality and morbidity. Indigenous peoples’ concepts and understanding of health and wellbeing are holistic; however, due to their diverse social, political, cultural, environmental and economic contexts within and across countries, wellbeing is not experienced uniformly across all Indigenous populations. The review found that themes varied across countries; however, identity, connection, balance and self-determination were common aspects of wellbeing. Having this broader understanding of wellbeing across these cultures can inform decisions made about public health actions and resources. 

Mika, J. (2021). Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.  

Te Arawa Lakes Trust represents a distinctive approach to managing environmental and human wellbeing, defined by a centuries-long association with the land, an Indigenous philosophy of water, emobodied by the trust’s governors, managers and staff. The trust’s approach is a lived philosophy, factored into decision-making through analysis and debate. Te Arawa identify synergies between cultural and commercial imperatives in decisions about the environment and wellbeing, but are somewhat constrained by resource limitations. 

COVID-19 related

Social isolation during COVID ‐19 lockdown impairs cognitive function

Ingram, J., Hand, C. J., & Maciejewski, G. (2021). Applied Cognitive Psychology, 35(4), 935–947. 

This study considered the effects of COVID-19-induced social isolation on cognitive function within a representative sample of the general population. Social isolation that became necessary for many during lockdowns has adverse effects on cognitive function. 

COVID-19 Health and Wellbeing Survey

Ministry of Health. (2020). 

The COVID-19 Health and Wellbeing Survey provides information about how New Zealanders have been impacted by COVID-19.

Protecting and promoting mental wellbeing: Beyond COVID-19

Poulton, R., Gluckman, P., Menzies, R., Bardsley, A., McIntosh, T., & Faleafa, M. (2020). Koi Tū: The Centre for Informed Futures.

Discussion paper from the Koi Tū ‘The Future is Now’ Conversation Series, Protecting and Promoting Mental Wellbeing: Beyond COVID-19, focuses on mitigating the threats posed by COVID-19 to the mental wellbeing of New Zealanders.

Life in lockdown: The economic and social effect of lockdown during Alert Level 4 in New Zealand

Prickett, K. C., Fletcher, M., Chapple, S., Doan, N., & Smith, C. (2020). Victoria University of Wellington.

In March 2020, New Zealand completed a 48 hour transition to an Alert Level 4 lockdown, a state which severely restricted people’s movement and their social interactions in an attempt to limit the spread of Covid-19. To examine the effects of lockdown on economic and social wellbeing in New Zealand, the Roy McKenzie Centre for the Study of Families and Children and the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies conducted a survey between April 15-18. 

The impact of lockdown on health risk behaviours

Nielsen. (2020). Te Hiringa Haora Health Promotion Agency.  

Results from a survey of alcohol, tobacco and gambling use during the COVID-19 Level 4 lockdown.

Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic and Nationwide Lockdown on Trust, Attitudes towards Government, and Wellbeing.

Sibley, C. G., Greaves, L., Satherley, N., Wilson, M., Lee, C., Milojev, P., Bulbulia, J., Osborne, D., Milfont, T. L., Overall, N., Houkamau, C., Duck, I., Vickers-Jones, R., & Barlow, F. (2020). American Psychologist [Preprint]. PsyArXiv. 

This study investigates the immediate effects of a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19 by comparing matched samples of New Zealanders assessed before (Npre-lockdown = 1003) and in the two weeks following (Nlockdown = 1003) the lockdown. It examines two categories of outcomes: (1) institutional trust and attitudes towards the nation and government, and (2) health and wellbeing. 

He oranga hou: Social cohesion in a post-COVID world

Spoonley, P., Gluckman, P., Bardsley, A., McIntosh, T., Hunia, R., Johal, S., & Poulton, R. (2020). Koi Tū: The Centre for Informed Futures

Discussion paper from the Koi Tū ‘The Future is Now’ Conversation Series, looking at societal resilience and the impact of Covid-19 on New Zealand’s social cohesion.

Covid-19 coronavirus: Prejudice against Asians in NZ lower than elsewhere, study finds

Tan, Lincoln. (2020, June 23). NZ Herald

Discusses a Massey University study about discrimination and Covid-19.

New Zealand Asian mental health & wellbeing report 2020: A snapshot survey

Zhu, A. (2020). Asian Family Services

This study shows the impact of Covid on the Asian community in New Zealand. Also includes findings about discrimination.

Beaglehole, B., Williman, J., Bell, C., Stanley, J., Jenkins, M., Gendall, P., Hoek, J., Rapsey, C., & Every-Palmer, S. (2022).  PloS One, 17(3), e0262745.  

This study found that nine percent of New Zealanders reported excellent wellbeing during severe COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. Demographic and broader health factors predicted excellent wellbeing status. An understanding of these factors may help to enhance wellbeing during any future lockdowns. 

Officer, T. N., Imlach, F., McKinlay, E., Kennedy, J., Pledger, M., Russell, L., Churchward, M., Cumming, J., & McBride-Henry, K. (2022). International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(4), 2269.  

This paper aimed to explore environmental and social factors that influenced the wellbeing of individuals during the first lockdown in Aotearoa New Zealand... Participants described a variety of factors influencing wellbeing, largely related to the community and household; physical, behavioural, and lifestyle factors; access to health services; and social and economic foundations. While much of the focus of COVID-19 recovery was on reversing the economic and physical toll of the pandemic, our findings emphasise the need to empower individuals, families, and communities to mitigate the pandemic’s negative implications on wellbeing. [From abstract] 

Prickett, K. C., Fletcher, M., Chapple, S., Doan, N., & Smith, C. (2020).  (Working Paper No. 20/03). Victoria University of Wellington.  

This report highlights that close to half of all New Zealanders experienced an economic loss during Alert Level 4 lockdown. It confirms that the wellbeing losses among those who experienced job or income loss are also likely to have been substantial. Essential workers reported slightly more stress during this time. Those who remained employed but could not work—a sizeable proportion who were likely being supported by the government wage subsidy programme—reported better wellbeing than other workers during lockdown and much better wellbeing than those who lost their jobs, demonstrating the positive impact of job security despite being unable to work. In terms of family functioning, families as a whole were considerably less stressed by fears that lockdown would strain relationships. Balancing work and family demands under lockdown, however, created time pressure and stress among working parents, in particular working mothers of young children. Overall, these findings can inform policy responses in the labour market that are aimed at both economic and wellbeing recovery, and in the event of potential future lockdowns.

(2022). Ipsos.  

Six macrotrends will shape the future of wellness. One key trend: an aging population that will impact the growing caregiving crisis and how we innovate products and services to meet their needs.  

Rāhina / Monday

Reconnect with yourself

Connecting with yourself is a skill. To start the week, begin by taking a moment to check in with yourself, acknowledge how you’re feeling and how the last few years of turbulence affected you and your connection with others and the world around you. This is a good time to think about the people you have lost contact with who you might want to reach out to, or the special places you haven’t visited in a while, and set some whāinga/goals for the week ahead.

At the end of the week, you can reflect on how you felt at the start and how reconnecting with the people and places that are special to you has lifted you up.

A few ideas for reconnecting with yourself:

Rātū/ Tuesday

Reconnect with a friend or loved one

We know life can get busy, but feeling connected to the people that are important to us can make a big difference to our mental health. Connection brings purpose and belonging to our lives and makes us feel happier and more secure. Today is about reconnecting with the people in our lives – it could be someone special who you have lost touch with or just wish you caught up with more often.

A few ideas for reconnecting with a friend or loved one:

Rāapa / Wednesday

Reconnect with a special place

The places and spaces we spend our time in have a huge impact on how we feel. Most of us have places we can go that calm, inspire or uplift us. Today, make time to go to a place that is special to you and take notice of how you feel when you are there. For some of us, the special place that comes to mind might be out of reach - perhaps it’s overseas, or too far away to get to. Even if we can’t get there right now, there are ways that we can reconnect with the places that lift us up.

A few ideas for reconnecting with a special place:

Rāpare / Thursday

Reconnect with your community.

Today is about reconnecting with your hapori whānui/wider community. It’s the perfect time to sign up to be a volunteer or join a local community group, but it could also be as simple as making the effort to reconnect with the people you interact with every day. Today is all about savouring the little hononga/connections that make us human.

A few ideas for reconnecting with your community:

Rāmere / Friday

Reconnect with nature

To round out the week, we’re asking you to reconnect with the beautiful taonga that is te taiao/the natural environment. Studies show exposure to nature not only makes us feel better emotionally, it contributes to our physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. All the more reason to spend at least a small moment today outside - breathing in some fresh air and noticing the world around you.

A few ideas for reconnecting with nature: