Exploring Te Whare Tapa Whā

An important way Te Rau Matatini acknowledged Mental Health Awareness week (8 – 12 November 2018) was Dr Kahu McClintock (Te Kīwai Ranghau Manager, Te Rau Matatini) accepting an invitation from the Ministry of Health to elaborate on Te Whare Tapa Whā. Kahu discussed this holistic Māori health approach and its relevance to mental health in the workplace.

Kahu was warmly welcomed by Dr Ashley Bloomfield, the recently appointed Director General of Health at the Ministry of Health along with over 50 of his staff. The day gave the Ministry of Health staff an opportunity to broaden knowledge about Te Whare Tapa Whā, and for some, it was a time to consolidate what was already known.  

Key messages included the importance of Whānau (family) values. From a Māori worldview, whānau is fundamentally based on whakapapa (genealogy) however the same values that exist within a whānau context are applicable within the workplace. The values of whanaungatanga (fostering relationships) manaakitanga (caring for each other) and koha (reciprocity, giving and receiving).

The celebration of the Tinana, physical wellbeing in the workplace was demonstrated by the Ministry of Health whānau, amply led by Peta Ruha with a stunning rendition of Mahunga, Pakihiwi… (Head, Shoulders….). A collective effort, physical activity AND te reo (language) Māori development all in the mix!

Language and culture are inextricably intertwined and set the boundaries of how people behave, think, and view other people. The taha Hinengaro (mental health) challenges us all to understand and accept differences.  The final vital component of the Whare Tapa Whā is that of Wairua (spiritual health). The recognition of spiritual energies both individual and collective, and linked to the seen and unseen that can contribute to one’s health and wellbeing.

There was also an opportunity to share the Hua Oranga, a Māori Outcomes Measurement (Hua Oranga Webinar Series), with the Ministry of Health founded on the Whare Tapa Whā and relevant to supporting Māori who access mental health and addiction services.  The Hua Oranga, a Māori Outcome Measurement provides a tool for services to monitor individual aspirations and gains for tangata whaiora within the context of the Whare Tapa Whā.