Te Pae Mahutonga – A Model for Māori Health Promotion

Te Pae Mahutonga
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The word mauri is unique to Māori concepts as it describes the life-force of things whether living or inanimate.

For example, greenstone with great presence can have mauri a life-force. Here Mauriora has been chosen to express the importance of a healthy cultural identity.

A persons culture uniquely influences their individual perceptions, ideas, interests and behaviours. With rapid urbanization, some Māori have limited access to their own culture whether through the loss of tribal lands or cultural institutions such as marae, alienation due to racism or loss of cultural ties, or a generational loss in the Māori language due its historical suppression and the ubiquity of English.

The importance of cultural identity was highlighted by Muriwaiet al.,(2015) which showed those who associated solely as Māori with strong cultural efficiency (having perceived personal resources to appropriately engage with Māori and the Māori world) had lower psychological distress.

💡 Māori are 1.5 times more likely than non-Māori to report having anxiety or depression.

Therefore this task of health promotion aims at society facilitating access to the Māori language, cultural institutions, tribal lands, and Māori services and networks.


The next star looks at safeguarding the natural environment as the primary Māori gods represent elements of nature. The aim is a balance in the development and environmental protection of land, water and sky which humans are dependent on for a healthy life in addition to their spiritual connection.


Represents a healthy lifestyle which is partly determined by individual choice with a large influence from socio-economic and educational status. As highlighted in the 2013 census Māori were most disadvantaged across all socioeconomic indicators (Ministry of Health, 2015).

Knowing these facts can help understand that it is not solely the individual, rather systemic determinants with added effects that can influence the individual long-term and even intergenerationally.

Te Oranga

Livelihood covers participation in society. This includes employment, education, and access to services in addition to the negative effects of racism which have been covered above.

💡 Specific examples of socioeconomic barriers to health access include Māori children being 3 times more likely to have an unmet need for a GP due to lack of transportation than non-Māori (Ministry of Health, 2015) or Māori being twice as likely than non-Māori to not be able to collect a prescription due to cost.

Ngā Manukura (leadership) and Te Mana Whakahaere (self-governance)

Two pointer stars highlighted as pre-requisites for effective health promotion. Whether that be through community, tribal or group alliances instead of public agencies assuming leadership roles on behalf of indigenous people to avoid assimilation by forcing indigenous to fit the majority culture and thinking.

Professional Reviewer

This article has been checked for quality and edited by…

Justin Sung
Justin Sung
MBChB, BMedSci (Hons)

Justin is a medical doctor, University of Auckland graduate, published research author, certified teacher, and founder of JTT. He has assisted thousands of students into healthcare careers since 2011, making him New Zealand’s individually most experienced medical entry expert. He regularly works with schools and organisations to help students and professionals learn more effectively.

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Coralie is a Māori doctor working in South Auckland after having a career in Science researching Diabetes and Cancer. Growing up in rural New Zealand and attending low decile schools has fuelled her drive towards reducing the same inequalities she faced. She’s passionate about being Māori and eager to share this rich culture with others.

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