Whenua is the place where you stand. It is your connection to the land – a source of life, nourishment and wellbeing for everyone.
Whenua includes soil, rocks, plants, animals and people – the tangata whenua. We are linked physically and spiritually to the land – it is the earth through which you are connected to your tūpuna/ancestors and all the generations that will come after you.
You can also think about whenua as your place of belonging – that means the spaces where you feel comfortable, safe and able to be yourself. It could be around your friends, at home with whānau, as part of a sports team or even at your place of study or mahi/work.
Why is whenua an important way to wellbeing?
Everything in the Māori world has a life force, the mauri, and when our natural resources are not looked after, this life force is weakened. This has a direct impact on mental health and wellbeing.
Exploring your way to wellbeing through the whenua:
Korihi te manu/ The bird sings
Tākiri mai i te ata/ The morning has dawned
Ka ao, ka ao, ka awatea/ The day has broken
Tihei mauri ora/ Behold there is life.
Photo Credit: @the.mint.trip
Just like your physical health, your taha hinengaro/mental and emotional wellbeing needs to be taken care of. Taha hinengaro is your mind, heart, conscience, thoughts and feelings. It’s about how you feel, as well as how you communicate and think.
Taking care of taha hinengaro is important for everyone, regardless of whether or not you’ve experienced mental illness or distress.
When your taha hinengaro is strong, you can better cope with the ups and downs of life. You can express your feelings and reach out for support from friends, whānau and hoamahi/colleagues if you need to.
Taha tinana is your physical wellbeing. It is about how your body grows, feels and moves and how you care for it.
Taha tinana is just one aspect of health and wellbeing and cannot be separated from all others.
Trying to nourish and strengthen your physical wellbeing will help you to cope with the ups and downs of life. Feeling physically well helps us to feel mentally well. Having strong taha tinana means we can be there for our whānau and take leadership in helping our loved ones live longer, healthier lives too.
It’s important to acknowledge that sometimes your taha tinana may not be as good as you’d like it to be, and this might be beyond your control. What’s important is that you take care of your taha tinana and do what you can to nurture it, regardless of your current physical abilities.
• Make a commitment with your whānau, friends or hoamahi/colleagues to pick one thing you could each do to improve your physical wellbeing. It could be supporting one another to quit smoking, drinking more water, having regular lunch breaks or eating more fruits and veggies. Start small and encourage each other to keep working at it!
• Look at how accessible your surroundings are people who may be using wheelchairs or other mobility supports to get around. Visit www.beaccessible.org.nz for more information on how you can make life easier for people living with a disability.
• Make physical activity fun and social. Get the whole whānau together for a walk after dinner, hold a whānau dance-off, play tag with your tamariki after school or kura, take a bike ride to your favourite park for a picnic with a friend or try out an online yoga or tai-chi course.
• Challenge yourself and set a goal! Ever wanted to run a half-marathon? Start slow and build up from a walk, to a jog to longer bursts of running. If running isn’t your thing there are heaps other activities you could try – swimming, waka ama, dancing – choose something that makes you feel your best!
• Try a body scan meditation. Notice where you might be holding tension and learn how to breathe deeply and release the tension from your body. This is a great practise to do at the end of the day.
• Been to the doctor lately? If not, you might like to consider visiting your local GP or hauora for a general check-up. It’s also a good time to ensure you’re up to date on things like free screening programmes.
• Take time to learn about any health issues that may run in your whānau and what steps you can take to prevent or manage it.
• Kai nourishes your body. Take some time to prepare some healthy meals for the coming week. Check out YouTube for recipe ideas and demonstrations. You could hold a MasterChef competition with friends or whānau!
Photo Credit: @fleuresqueandco
Taha whānau is about who makes you feel you belong, who you care about and who you share your life with.
Whānau is about extended relationships – not just your immediate relatives, it’s your friends, hoamahi/colleagues, your community and the people who you care about. Everyone has a place and a role to fulfil within their own whānau and whānau contributes to your individual wellbeing and identity.
Spending time with whānau, doing things for them and getting involved gives you a feeling of purpose, connection and wellbeing. It benefits you and builds the strength of your whole whānau. As a core source of strength, support, security and identity, whānau plays a central role in your wellbeing.
Photo Credit: Toni Touche
Taha wairua explores your relationship with the environment, people and heritage in the past, present and future.
Your spiritual essence is your life force – your mauri. This is who and what you are, where you have come from and where you are going.
The way people view wairua can be very different. For some, wairua is the capacity for faith or religious beliefs or having a belief in a higher power. Others may describe wairua an internal connection to the universe. There is no right or wrong way to think of or experience wairua, but it is an important part of our mental wellbeing.
As part of exploring your way to wellbeing we encourage you to think about what wairua means to you and the things you can do to strengthen your wairua.
Feeling comfortable in your identity, values and beliefs helps you feel secure in who you are and what you stand for. When you are content with yourself it is easier to cope with challenges, build strong whānau relationships and discover the things that uplift you.
Photo Credit: Chaney Manuel