The Aroā wellbeing initiative, an online resource and activities library developed by rangatahi Māori, for rangatahi Māori, has been launched to support young people to improve their oranga wellbeing.  

The initiative is supported by an ongoing rangatahi Māori social media influencer campaign, a bus shelter installation in Porirua and targeted advertising.  

The Deputy Chief Executive for Public and Population Health of Te Aka Whai Ora, Selah Hart, says Aroā is a digital forest, full of mindful moments and wellbeing resources.  

“With Aroā, rangatahi can immerse themselves in the forest of Tāne Mahuta and in doing so, check in with themselves, do a breathing exercise, or a cleansing karakia, as well as have access to a wealth of wellbeing services across the motu.” 

Selah says this resource is important because rangatahi Māori have had a rough time of late.  

“There’s been COVID and lock downs, severe weather events, racism and discrimination, and often, uncertainty about the future,” she says. 

“Aroā came about initially as part of a Māori psychosocial response to COVID. However, it’s evolved to be broader than that because the stresses of COVID affect wellbeing like many other issues facing rangatahi today.” 

In developing the initiative, rangatahi said that Aroā needed to deliver an experience that felt like a ‘digital hug,’ giving validation and reassurance, as well as access to resources.  

Aroā was the work of a dedicated team at Manatū Hauora who conceptualised the initiative, and worked with VML&R, Native Voice and the Rangatahi Collective Group to develop this wellbeing resource so that rangatahi Māori can have one touch point to all the wellbeing services available. 

The initiative now sits under Oranga Hinengaro work at Te Aka Whai Ora.

Oranga Hinengaro - people living with mental distress, illness and addictions - is one of five key health areas Te Aka Whai Ora is working to improve and represents the greatest potential for intervention. 

Te Aka Whai Ora has committed funding to the Aroā initiative and supporting campaign until June 2024.