Te Whare Tapa Whā


Being a globally connected educator has allowed me to collaborate with, and be inspired by, so many great educators from around the globe. Recently as I seek new ways in which to teach, and resources to use with my students, I have found myself looking to my peers in the Southern Hemisphere. Health teachers in New Zealand have an interesting perspective when it comes to framing their health and wellness curriculum and this owes much to the cultural identity of the indigenous population on the islands, the Maori. Wanting to learn more about what they refer to as Hāuora I asked Georgia Dougherty, a Health & PE teacher in Auckland, New Zealand to explain things for me.


Te Whare Tapa Whā – Māori well-being model

As Health educators, we know our health and wellbeing is more complex than the physical body alone. Health is holistic, therefore needs to be considered holistically.

Dr Mason Durie developed a Health model in 1982, encapsulating a Māori philosophy of wellbeing unique to New Zealand. The model, the whare tapa whā, is represented by a house (whare), suggesting one’s health has four dimensions; physical, social, mental/emotional and spiritual. Like a house, if one wall is affected, multiple walls are likely to be affected. To illustrate, imagine a bulldozer crashing into one side of a house, that wall would crumble and the others are likely to crumble too (the speed at which this happens varies). Our Hāuora (well-being) is similar – when one dimension is affected, the others are likely to be affected too, thus all four dimensions affect one’s health and well-being.

Physical well-being (Taha tinana), is the most familiar part of Health to all – the body itself. Taha tinana is related to the growth and development of one’s body, movement of the body and caring for the body. I explore this with the students with reference to exercise/physical activity and what we put into our bodies (e.g. foods and drinks). In greater depth, Māori consider the body, and all things associated with the body as tapu (sacred/special). For example, the head is tapu, so Māori do not touch each other’s heads. Additionally, personal space and body language are encompassed within Taha tinana, particularly considering stepping over one another as demeaning to that person’s mana (personal authority/power).

Social well-being (Taha whānau) explores the relationships within a person’s life, including family and friends, as well as feelings of support, care and compassion. Within Māori whānau, family connections are an important part of life, each person within the family having an important role to ensure care of all. One’s identity is derived from family characteristics, including ancestors, and identity is valued in high regard for Māori.

Mental and emotional well-being (Taha hinengaro), related to one’s thoughts and feelings, which are vital in the Māori world. I encourage students to think about how their feelings possibly affect how they are in class, what their physical bodies feel like or how we may act differently with our friends and whānau dependant on how we are feeling. Sometimes, communication through emotions rather than words is more meaningful for Māori.

Spiritual well-being (Taha wairua) is acknowledged as possibly the most essential component of Health, and also possibly the most difficult to define. One’s spiritual well-being comprises of the beliefs and values which determine the way people live. For some, this refers to particular religious beliefs, but not all. In addition, Taha wairua is linked to self-awareness and the search for purpose in one’s life, including what is important to someone.

Thank you to Georgia for writing this week’s blog post. I hope that it will increase collaboration between #healthed teachers across the globe.

Here are this week’s #slowchathealth questions. Feel free to answer them all at once or as they are released daily. Let’s keep the conversation flowing among our #healthed community.

Q1. Do you think your students place more emphasis on Taha tinana than other areas of their Hauora? #slowchathealth #NZHPEChat

Q2. To what extent has your Taha whanau shaped your identity as a teacher? #slowchathealth #NZHPEChat

Q3. How does your school support the Taha hinengaro of your students? #slowchathealth #NZHPEChat

Q4. Is Taha wairua perceived differently by students from different cultures, and if so, how? #slowchathealth#NZHPEChat

Q5 As #healthed teachers what can we learn from Health models from other cultures? Hauora? Fonofale? Fonua? #slowchathealth #NZHPEChat


You can find more from Georgia on her blog.

You can also hear her episode on Carl Condliffe‘s awesome podcast NZPETeachercast.

Also check out Finding Hauora from Roz O’Shea.

5 thoughts on “Te Whare Tapa Whā

  1. Pingback: Journaling in Health – #slowchathealth

  2. Pingback: Love, Hope and Peace – #slowchathealth

  3. Pingback: Teaching World Games – #slowchathealth

  4. Pingback: The Curious Case of Senior Secondary Health Education in Aotearoa New Zealand. – #slowchathealth

  5. Pingback: Why Leave Health Education to Chance? – #slowchathealth

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s