What's on Donate


A collection of research relating to holistic wellbeing 

Social well-being. Social Psychology Quarterly

Keyes, Corey Lee M. (1998). 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). Retrieved from Health Promotion Agency website:

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).

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.

New Zealand Treasury Guest Lecture Series: Measuring Māori wellbeing.

Durie, M. (2006). 

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., & Health Promotion Agency. (2018). 

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). 

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 well‐being: how can they be increased? International Journal of Leadership in Public Services

Norriss, H. (2010). 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). Connect... take notice... be active... keep learning... give: 

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. International Journal of Lifelong Education

Field, J. (2009).  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.

Learning for life: Adult learning, mental health and wellbeing.

Robotham, D., Morgan, K., & James, K. (2011).

Learning and education can affect mental health and wellbeing. A partnership between Northamptonshire Teaching Primary Care Trust and Northamptonshire County Council Adult Learning Service resulted in the Learn 2b programme; a series of community-based adult learning courses for people with mild to moderate depression and anxiety.

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 as a predictor of all-cause mortality: what aspects of volunteering really matter? 

Ayalon, L. (2008). 20(5), 1000–1013. International Psychogeriatrics

Volunteering was associated with a reduced mortality risk even after adjusting for age, gender, education, baseline mental health and physical health, activity level and social engagement. Those who volunteered for 10 to 14 years had a reduced mortality risk relative to non-volunteers. In addition, those who volunteered privately, not as part of an official organisation, also had a reduced mortality risk compared to non-volunteers.  Results of this study suggest that not all aspects of volunteering have the same predictive value and that the protective effects of length of volunteering time and type of volunteering are particularly important. However, whether or not volunteering is the most consistent predictor of mortality and whether once a person volunteers the various aspects of volunteering are no longer associated with mortality risk.

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.

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).

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.

Let’s get physical report. 

Edmunds, S., Biggs, H., & Goldie, I. (2013).

This UK report explores the theme of Mental Health Awareness Week 2013, physical activity and wellbeing.

Green prescription active families survey report: 2016. 

Research New Zealand. (2016).

This report presents the findings of the eighth 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).

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.

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