Māori models of health

This page outlines some different Māori models of health and models of practice.

Te Whare Tapa Whā – Mason Durie

The four cornerstones (or sides) of Māori health in the Te Whare Tapa Whā model of health are:

  • Taha tinana (physical health – capacity for physical growth and development)  
  • Taha wairua (spiritual health – the capacity for faith and wider communication)
  • Taha whānau (family health – the capacity to belong, to care and to share)
  • Taha hinengaro (mental health – the capacity to communicate, to think and to feel mind and body are inseparable) 

Image credit: Ministry of Health, NZ

The cornerstones interlock and together provide stability. Each is essential for maintaining health and wellbeing. Damage to any of these may result in an individual or collective becoming ‘unbalanced’ and unwell. Read more about the Te Whare Tapa Whā model of health. 

Meihana model  Pitama, Robertson, Cram, Gillies, Huria and Dallas-Katoa

Image credit: University of Otago, NZ

This builds on the Te Whare TapWhā model, adding two extra elements, to form a mental health practice model for working with Māori.  

 The additional elements are: 

  • Taiao (physical environment, eg, warmth of housing, access to services) 
  • Iwi Katoa (societal context, eg, societal values, laws and beliefs about appropriate behaviour). 

Pitama and colleagues describe it as “a framework that facilitates fusion of clinical and cultural competencies to better serve Māori within mental health service delivery. It has six dimensions that interconnect to form a multidimensional assessment tool. It is intended to be used from the start of the first contact with a client and their whānau and builds a comprehensive picture of whānau circumstances and how the client’s presenting issues fit within the picture. 

A full description of the model, its development and how it is designed to be used can be found here.  

Te Wheke – Rose Pere

In this model of Māori health, the dimensions are based on Te Wheke, the octopus and the 8 tentacles that collectively contribute to waiora or total wellbeing:

  • Te whānau – the family 

  • Waiora – total wellbeing for the individual and family 
  • Wairuatanga – spirituality 
  • Hinengaro – the mind 
  • Taha tinana – physical wellbeing 
  • Whanaungatanga – extended family
  • Mauri  life force in people and objects 
  • Mana ake – unique identity of individuals and family 
  •  a koro ma, a kui ma - breath of life from forbearers 
  • Whatumanawa – the open and healthy expression of emotion. 

Read more about the Te Wheke model.

Te Pae Māhutonga – Mason Durie

Te Pae Māhutonga (Southern Cross star constellation) brings together elements of modern health promotion.

Image credit: Ministry of Health, NZ

The four central stars represent: 

  • Mauriora – cultural identity 
  • Waiora – physical environment 
  • Toiora - healthy lifestyles 
  • Te Oranga – participation in society 

The two pointers represent Ngā Manukura (community leadership) and Te Mana Whakahaere (autonomy). Read more about the Te Pae Māhutonga model.

Learn more

Māori models of health Ministry of Health, NZ
Te Wheke Ministry of Health, NZ 
Lecture on Meihana method for better understanding Māori patients’ health needs Ministry of Health, NZ 
Piripi T, Body V. Tihei-wa mauri ora NZ J Couns. 2010;30(1):34-46.
Durie M. Te Pae Māhutonga – a model for Māori health promotion Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand Newsletter 49


Māori models of health Ministry of Health, NZ, 2017 
Pitama S, Robertson P, Cram F. et al. Meihana model – a clinical assessment framework NZ J Psycol. 2007;36(3):118-125. 
Piripi T, Body V. Tihei-wa mauri ora NZ J Couns. 2010;30(1):34-46.
Tihei-wa Mauri Ora   

Credits: Health Navigator Editorial Team.