Wai ora – healthy environments

The concept of wai ora encapsulates the importance of the environments in which we live and that have a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of individuals, whānau and communities.

Wai ora literally refers to water, both as a resource and as an essential part of the environment that provides sustenance for life. The concept reflects the need for Māori to have access to resources and to live in environments that support and sustain a healthy life.

Achieving wai ora will mean that the environment in which Māori, and all New Zealanders, live, work and play is safe. Wai ora also focuses on ensuring Māori have appropriate access to quality housing, safe drinking water and air, and healthy food, and that we are prepared for emergency events – for example, pandemics and natural hazards such as earthquakes. Dealing with the impact of climate change on health is also a focus for the future.

Wai ora is closely linked to the traditional realms of public health. It also reminds us that addressing the determinants of health, including poverty and education, is essential to improving outcomes for Māori.

Wai ora in practice

Caring for the heart of the hapū

‘It’s wonderful to see the kids’ eyes light up when they see the colourful, healthy kai laid out.’

Te Hapū O Ngāti Wheke is the heart of the Rāpaki community in Banks Peninsula, and it’s a heart the hapū are committed to keeping healthy.

Rāpaki Office manager Cushla Dwyer is helping lead the challenge of creating a healthier environment.

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More information

Tatau Kahukura: Māori Health Chart Book 2010
Tatau Kahukura provides a snapshot of Māori health in the mid to late 2000s. It updates the first Māori Health Chart Book, which was released in 2006 and was based on data from the early 2000s. The chart book presents key indicators relating to the socioeconomic determinants of health, risk and protective factors for health, health status, health service utilisation, and the health system.

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