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  • Te Pararē

Opinion: Adapting Our Approach To Hauora In Self-Isolation

Kia ora tātou,

Ko Tainui te waka,

Ko Kawhia te awa,

Ko Kawhia te moana,

Ko Taranaki te maunga,

Ko Ngāti Maniapoto me Ngāti Ruanui ōku iwi,

Ko Royal Hepi tēnei,

Nō Heretaunga ahau.

Times are tough! Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic that breached our shores in mid-late March, we have been compelled to stay indoors and self-isolate. For some, this is habitual and for others, not so much. If there is one thing this virus has taught me as I approach week three of quarantine, it is that good health is true wealth. It is important we look after those whom we are self-isolating with, by both respecting social distancing and keeping our spaces tidy, however, it is imperative that we look after ourselves first and foremost. When I was approached to collaborate with Te Pararē - the National Māori Tertiary Students Magazine, I thought Hauora would be a purposeful topic to discuss, especially the ways in which we view health individually and how we access it. Health is a subjective topic and that is understandable, but what happens when a pandemic such as COVID-19 forces you to develop a different or somewhat new approach to the way you view yours? Here is where kōrero with friends/whānau and your inner dialogue can help. Building a network of sources in which you attain a healthy and prosperous body and mind.

In 2016, I moved back to Aotearoa to pursue a degree in Public Health and Indigenous Development. Prior to this I spent eighteen years in Ireland with my whānau until I ran into complications with my tertiary level application due to my citizenship status at the time. This was disheartening to say the least and made me question my own goals and aspirations I had dreamed about as a young tāne of becoming a physiotherapist. At that time, my own health both psychologically and physiologically had diminished. I socialised excessively, neglected my taha tinana and as a result, suffered mentally. After months on end, living a non-sustainable lifestyle, something inside was telling me to ‘get a grip’, so I did! I came back home.

I spent the summer of 2016 with my grandmother in Napier and this is where I identify my own perspectives on health taking a tremendous shift. I learned from my kuia, the origins of my own identity. My whakapapa. Within my whakapapa, I realised the connection I had to both land and people and how they themselves were interlinked. Something I was not familiar with growing up in a foreign society and therefore opening my mind to the concept of Te Ao Māori. Moreover, this encouraged me to refine or re-shape my view on Hauora. I learned, like many before me, the four main aspects of health through Mason Durie's ‘Te Whare Tapa Whā’ namely, taha tinana, hinengaro, wairua and whānau and my koro, who worked in occupational therapy dealing with individuals and households suffering from drug and alcohol addiction, developed his own health models which adopted very similar philosophies for his mahi.

So, what does Te Ao Māori consider to be healthy? Being physically fit? Being social? Having a spiritual side to your persona? Or maintaining good relations with your family/ significant other? To me it is all encompassing and no one aspect exists in solace. This begs the question, what do you do when a pandemic such as COVID-19 emerges and you are forced to self isolate at home? This concept can become extremely challenging to comprehend, as you are forced to adapt to a new life indoors. Or are you? Personally, I don’t subscribe to this notion and realise that we as humans are extremely resilient and adaptable to changing conditions and environments, including the one we are currently in.

I urge all tauira, and their whānau to re-visit and / or re-define their own view on health during this time. Especially if you are struggling with any of the foundations I have mentioned previously. Seek different ways to adapt certain aspects of your health to the changing environment around us. For example, replacing the gym with walks and body weight exercises, find new ways to socialise with friends and family such as a Zoom call or board games/wānanga at home with your flatmates (who knows, you might save some money doing this also), and perhaps reading books on spirituality and seeking your own connection with a time and / or place? Remember, if you haven’t already, it is never too late to explore your whakapapa. What lies beneath could really change your life and perspectives you may have.

Hauora is with you until the very end whānau, so try to nourish it as best you can. Don’t hesitate to reach out. I will try and help in any way I can!

Mauri ora e te iwi.


He Kupu Mō Te Kaituhi:

Royal Hepi

Royal studies Public Health and Indigenous Development at the University of Otago. If you're interested in hearing more of his kōrero around similar topics then check out his podcast Te Kākano on Youtube.


Cover Art: Illustrated by Jhaymeān Terekia (IG: @jhaymean)


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