A sense of belonging through a connection with te taiao, the natural world, is nurturing a new generation of healthy and happy whānau in Ōtepoti Dunedin and the southern reaches of Te Waipounamu.

Tūrangawaewae, a whānau-led te Ao Māori program, plays a key role in building strong whānau relationships, with the support of Te Aka Whai Ora funding.

Whānau engage in interactive outdoor activities to connect with te taiao within the framework of maramataka (moon cycles). They learn mātauranga, such as gathering and preparing kai, creating structures from driftwood, and weaving kete from harakeke – among other skills.

Te Hou Ora kaimahi and Program creator Lashana Lewis says, “The meaning of Tūrangawaewae is a safe place to stand. It provides a sense of belonging, connecting Whānau to their identity as Māori by grounding them in te taiao.

“The importance of Tūrangawaewae lies in building healthy whānau relationships, creating a positive and strong community. My vision is to have as many of our babies as we can using te taiao as a resource to whakatau.

”Tūrangawaewae assists Whānau in reconnecting with their tupuna’s ways of being, understanding their connection with the whenua, bringing them confidence, and a stronger identity and foundation as Māori.


One whaiora shares her experiences: “My tamariki have learned to respect the environment; to read the water, to karakia first to whichever atua is involved in that activity. I've also noticed the time they’ve spent in te taiao has made them more settled during the days they are at school.

“The course has settled me; it's settled my wairua. It's given me the foundation to engage more with my kids and to be a fun parent.”

Te Aka Whai Ora Maiaka Mātauranga DCE Mātauranga Māori, Kingi Kiriona, emphasises the overwhelming evidence showing that mātauranga, kaupapa, and te ao Māori approaches are essential strategies to support whānau in addressing contemporary issues for iwi and hapori Māori.

“Good science and good healthcare have always drawn on a diversity of types and sources of evidence - and valuing mātauranga is part of that,” says Kingi. “For Māori, ensuring good care means incorporating mātauranga and te ao Māori, offering many opportunities to improve care for whānau.

“The funding of mātauranga initiatives aligns with Te Pae Tata | Interim New Zealand Health Plan 2022 overarching goal of ‘people will live healthier lives when they feel part of an inclusive community, have access to safe, good-quality housing, and are active with good nutrition and emotional support.”

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Te Hou Ora Whānau Services is a Kaupapa Māori service provider that has walked alongside ngā hapori o Ōtepoti (communities in and around Dunedin) since 1976, empowering tamariki, rangatahi and whānau to reverse cycles of hardship and create positive opportunities for themselves within the context of their cultural identity through the application of reo me ngā tikanga Māori.