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Taha wairua: spiritual wellbeing

spiritual wellbeing is about more than just religion

Taha wairua is about the things that give you meaning. For some, it’s about a religious faith, or a spiritual connection to the universe and ancestors.

But it can also be about learning to celebrate your own story: who you are, what you believe, where you belong and where you’re going.

Know yourself

Knowing yourself makes you powerful. Having a strong sense of what you like, think and believe gives you the confidence to make your voice heard, and to do your own thing when the crowd gets it wrong. Sadly, though, it doesn’t make it any easier to choose what to watch on Netflix on a Friday night.

  • Find new stories and ideas in as many different books, articles, podcasts and films as you can. Challenge yourself to find something you love, hate, agree with and disagree with in each one. Be like a bee getting pollen from different flowers- take something from everything you read and make it part of you.
  • Keep a diary. Write about what’s going on in your friendship group, what you watch and read, the funny things you hear people saying on the bus. Leave it a few months, then read it back and hear your own unique voice.
  • Talk to your friends and family about the issues that matter to you. Ask them what they think about a film, a political problem or something you’ve heard on the news. Listen to what they say and decide how much you agree.
  • You don’t have to follow the herd- but you also don’t have to be different for the sake of being different. Be yourself.

Learn about yourself

Learn more about yourself and what you’re good at on a Limited Service Volunteering course. This free, live-in training programme will boost your confidence, teach you some important skills and introduce you to lots of new friends. Find out more at the Work and Income website.

Limited Service Volunteering

Discovery for Teens is a week-long residential course that gives you the motivation and confidence to be who you are. You can apply for a scholarship to pay for your place. Find out more at their website.

Discovery for teens

Celebrate your culture and history

From the food that reminds you of home you to whether you get together with your whānau at Christmas, Matariki or Eid, your culture and history are part of your story. Celebrating them reminds you who you are and where you belong.

You’ll know what this means for you, but here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Make a habit of visiting your local marae, church, mosque, temple- or anywhere that feels like home.
  • Get someone to teach you how to cook traditional food, and then make it for your friends.
  • Learn about your family’s history. Ask your grandparents or other relatives about what life was like when they were young, and how things have changed.

You can find out more about the story of your country or people online, in its mythology, in history books or stories set in the past.

At the Te Kete Ipurangi website, you can read Māori myths, legends and contemporary stories retold by the writer and film director Wiremu Grace.

Te Kete Ipurangi

Te Ara is a free online encyclopaedia of New Zealand. It’s a great place to get started learning about the cultures, environment and history of our country- and you can read it in English or Māori.

Te Ara

The New Zealand Government website includes plenty of historical information- including an archive you can search to learn more about your whakapapa.

History, culture and heritage

Practice your religion, and learn about those of others

In the most recent national census, about half of all New Zealanders said they had some sort of religious belief. If you are religious, practicing your faith can help you feel connected to other people in your community and to something bigger than you. It can guide how you act in your everyday life.

  • Go to a service at your place of worship.
  • Learn a karakia or a prayer and recite it to yourself when you feel stressed or alone.
  • Do something good for your religious community. Get involved in a fundraising event or a programme to help others.
  • Ask someone you admire to be your mentor. They can help you learn about your religion and make good decisions.
  • Go for a walk at a park, a lake or forest and feel connected to nature.

Learn about other religions

Religion shapes how people think, feel and act. Learning about other people’s beliefs can help you understand where they’re coming from and get to know them better. It’s interesting learning about what makes everyone unique- and you might be surprised by how much you’ve got in common!