Te Whare Tapa Whā
Mental Health Awareness Week is underpinned by Te Whare Tapa Whā, a model designed by leading Māori health advocate Sir Mason Durie in 1984.
The model describes health and wellbeing as a wharenui/meeting house with four walls. These walls represent taha wairua/spiritual wellbeing, taha hinengaro/mental and emotional wellbeing, taha tinana/physical wellbeing and taha whānau/family and social wellbeing. Our connection with the whenua/land forms the foundation.
Over MHAW we'll explore each part of the wharenui and give you practical ideas for how you can strengthen your wellbeing so you, your whānau and Aotearoa can thrive.
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.
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.
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.
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 immediate relatives. It’s your hoamahi/colleagues, friends, community and the people you care about. You have a unique place and a role to fulfil within your whānau and your whānau contributes to your wellbeing and identity.
Taha wairua explores your relationship with the environment, people and heritage in the past, present and future. 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 as 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.