Te Whare Tapa Wha

Dr Mason Durie (1994) developed a Māori philosophy toward health that is based on a holistic health and wellness model called Te Whare Tapa Wha.

He states that health is underpinned by four dimensions representing the basic beliefs of life – te taha hinengaro (psychological health); te taha wairua (spiritual health); te taha tinana (physical health); and te taha whānau (relational health). The four dimensions are represented by the four walls of a house. Each wall is necessary to the strength and symmetry of the building.


Te Whare Tapa Wha Pic


Taha Hinengaro (mental health) describes the capacity to communicate, to think and to feel. Thoughts, feelings and emotions are integral components of the body and soul.

Taha Wairua (spiritual health) describes the capacity for belief, faith and core values. Health is related to unseen and unspoken energies and the spiritual essence of a person is their life force. This determines us as individuals and as a collective; who and what we are, where we have come from and where we are going.

Taha Tinana describes the capacity for physical growth and development. Good physical health is required for optimal development and our physical ‘being’ supports our essence and shelters us from the external environment. For Māori the physical dimension is just one aspect of health and well-being and cannot be separated from the aspect of mind, spirit and family.

Taha Whānau (family health) relates to the capacity to belong, to care and to share where individuals are part of wider social systems. Whānau or family provides us with the strength to be who we are. This is also the link to our ancestors, our ties with the past, the present and the future. Understanding the importance of whānau and how whānau can contribute to illness and assist in curing illness is fundamental to understanding Māori health issues.


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