Understanding Te whare tapa wha

Te whare tapa whā model

This section uses the Māori health model, te whare tapa whā (1) to explain emotions from a holistic perspective. Te whare tapa whā1 is a model of wellness that shows the relationship between taha wairua (spiritual wellbeing), taha hinengaro (mental and emotional wellbeing), taha whānau (family wellbeing) and taha tinana (physical wellbeing).

The symbolic use of a wharenui shows the four cornerstones (or sides) of Māori health. If one side is missing or damaged, the whole house (or person) may become unbalanced or unwell. Whenua (the connection with the land or environment), is the base for the other four sides and is a key part of a person’s identity. Connecting to nature, to the land and sea, can play a strong role in improving our emotional, physical, and spiritual wellbeing.

 te whare tapa wha2

Taha hinengaro

Emotions are how you ‘feel on the inside’. They can have a physical effect on your body, affecting your spiritual wellbeing and your relationships with family/whānau and friends. This can be a time of grief as you adjust to loss and learn to live with the changes a cancer diagnosis can bring to your life. It is common to experience strong emotions at this time and they will change often.


Taha wairua

Spiritual distress is a common part of the cancer experience. Life changes in many ways when you or someone you care about has cancer. You might find that spiritual support can help you cope with these changes.


Taha tinana

When you have cancer you may feel better on some days than on others—every day is likely to be different. Looking after yourself by taking small steps to care for your body can improve your wellbeing and reduce stress. Taha tinana is about more than just the visible effects of cancer. Our mind, body, and spirit are not separate.


Taha whānau

Being part of a wider social system supports our emotional, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. Families/Whānau provide us with the strength to be who we are. In taha Māori, the links to our ancestors—our ties to our past, the present, and the future—are part of the strength we get from taha whānau.

1. Durie, M Ngāti Kauwhata, Ngāti Rangatahi, Rangitane (2011). Retrieved from http://www.hauora.
co.nz/assets/files/ Maori/maori_health_model_tewhare.pdf

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