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Good reads - Children and Youth


 just breathe final

Just Breathe

Sievers, Jen (2018). N.Z.: New Shoots Publishing.

Just Breathe is a delightful picture book written for children aged 3–8 years old. It tells a story that takes children (and parents) through a simple and engaging mindfulness exercise...

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 Book of knowing cover

The book of knowing: Know how you think, change how you feel

Smith, G. (2019). Allen & Unwin.

Knowing by Gwendoline Smith is an engaging book about understanding your brain and how it affects your thinking...

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 Arohas way final


Aroha’s way: A children’s guide through emotions 

Phillips, C. (2019).  N.Z.: Wildling Books.

I’m a great believer in reviewing a book in conjunction with its intended audience and my guess is Aroha’s Way is beautifully pitched for primary school tamariki... 

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 stand by me final  

Stand by me: Helping your teen through tough times

Kirwan, J. (2014). Auckland: Penguin.

Like All Blacks Don’t Cry, this new book is a page turner. The chapters are short and to the point, which makes for easy digestion, and usually hold at least one pearl of wisdom...

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 feel a little final  

Feel a Little: Little poems about big feelings

Palmer, J. (2017). Little Love.

Giving children a way to explore, discuss and express their feelings, in my opinion, is one of the greatest gifts you can give your children and Feel a Little provides an excellent medium to do just that...

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 I am calm final  

I AM calm - How to leave your worries behind

Robins, Maria. (2018). Auckland: Altreya Publishing.

The book has given my daughter a new mantra, which is working a treat: “I am calm... I am ok... I’m not getting sucked down with these thoughts today.”...

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Māui – Sun Catcher

Tipene, T. (2017). Auckland: Oratia Books.

In support of Māori Language Week (11–17 September), Constable Bryan and Bobby from the New Zealand Police read Māui – Sun Catcher to the kids from Red Beach School library reading group...

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 The specific ocean

The specific ocean

Kyo Maclear and Illustrator Katty Maurey. (2015). Kids Can Press.

A thread within the story that Kiwi kids will relate to is the concept of Whakawhanaungatanga – the ways by which people come into relationship with the world (including the land), with people, and with life...

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 50 ways to feel happy  

50 ways to feel happy: Fun activities and ideas to build your happiness skills

King, V., Payne, V., & Harper, P. (2018). U.K.: QED Publishing.

This book encourages children to have a broader view of happiness. By discussing strategies such as healthy eating, mindfulness, setting goals and accepting yourself, it delves deeper  into what makes us happy, and in doing so, equips children with some invaluable life skills. 

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 Stuff that sucks Accepting what you cant change and committing to what you can  

Stuff that sucks: Accepting what you can't change and committing to what you can

Sedley, B. (2015) Robinson.

Stuff that sucks is based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and offers some insightful perspectives on the stuff that sucks in life.

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The sound of silence

The sound of silence

Goldsaito, K. (2016). Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

Children get to experience this story through multiple senses, and they come away perhaps a little curious to reflect on their own lives to see if they can find pockets of silence among all the noise.

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 The Chair series The Chill Out Chair and The Goodbye Chair  

The ‘chair’ series: The chill out chair and the goodbye chair

Carson Barr, J. with illustrations by Barr, S. (2017, 2013). N.Z.: Veritas Aotearoa Publishing. 

The Chill Out Chair normalises feeling angry or being sent to ‘calm down’. The Goodbye Chair is excellent in helping tamariki and parents/whānau transition away from one another.

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 From Worrier to Warrior A guide to conquering your fears  

From Worrier to Warrior: A guide to conquering your fears

Peters, D. (2013). Great Potential Press, Inc.

If you’re a worrier, your child is a worrier, this book can certainly help. Warriors we are!

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 Conversations for change  

Conversations for change

(2017). Auckland: reTHiNK. 

A resource that reTHiNK has created to challenge stigma and discrimination toward mental health issues. It's comprised of a set of five activities to use with groups of young people aged 15–24 and is written so that teachers, youth leaders or young leaders can safely and effectively facilitate it. 

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 He kanehe he manatunatu Wishes and worries  

Wishes and worries / He kanehe, he manatunatu

Sarina Dickson, illustrated by Jenny Cooper. (2015). Kotuku Creative.

The book provides readers with valuable skills and normalises kids’ concerns, but also has a dash of magic, fun and hope.

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 He Tai Pari The rising tide  

He Tai Pari / The Riding Tide

Sarina Dickson, illustrated by Jenny Cooper. (2015). Kotuku Creative.

This book appeals to any child with worries, and includes excellent strategies to help.

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 Maia raua ko te Ngarara Pawera Maia and the Worry Bug  

Māia rāua ko te Ngārara Pāwera / Maia and the Worry Bug

Burgess-Manning, J. (2015). Kōtuku Creative.

This book appeals to any child with worries, and includes excellent strategies to help.

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For updates about Mental Health Awareness Week


Connection to the land and roots 


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.


whenua 5

 Photo Credit: @the.mint.trip



Taha Hinengaro

Mental and emotional wellbeing

What is taha hinengaro?

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.

Why is taha hinengaro an important way to wellbeing?

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.

Exploring your way to wellbeing through taha hinengaro


hinengaro 1

Photo Credit:@britmuminnz

Taha Tinana

Physical Wellbeing

What is taha tinana?

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.

Why is taha tinana an important way to wellbeing?

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.

Exploring your way to wellbeing through taha tinana

• 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!


Credit fleuresqueandco

Photo Credit: @fleuresqueandco

Taha Whānau

Family and social wellbeing 

What is taha whānau?

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.

 Why is taha whānau an important way to wellbeing?

 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.

 Exploring your way to wellbeing through taha whānau


whanau 1

Photo Credit: Toni Touche


Taha Wairua

Spiritual Wellbeing 

What is taha wairua?

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.

Why is taha wairua an important way to wellbeing?

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.

Exploring your way to wellbeing through taha wairua

wairua 2

Photo Credit: Chaney Manuel