From waka ama to māra kai and Māori movement, Māori workshops are being held this Mental Health Awareness Week to promote positive community wellbeing.

Hāpai Te Hauora and the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) have joined forces for Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) to prioritise wellbeing.

MHAW runs from 8-14 October and encourages people to Let nature in, strengthen your wellbeing - Mā te taiao, kia whakapakari tōu oranga!

Two Auckland marae are hosting events across the week to encourage whānau, communities, kura and workplaces to uplift their wairua within our natural world.

"Our identity as Māori is intrinsically connected to the taiao, so Mental Health Awareness Week provides opportunity to reaffirm this" says Rangi McLean, Pou Tikanga from Hāpai Te Hauora.

The community workshops include waka ama, mahi ngāo, māra kai, Māori movement and sharing stories about the wellbeing of whānau. Each event aligns with the Five Ways to Wellbeing - five simple actions that boost wellbeing.

‘We should all be getting into the habit of healing through the land. Having a practice that gives you a continued purpose outside, in the soil, with your whanau like the maara kai is the beginners way of achieving that. We need to create a space for whanau to be with our whenua and seek the healing they need - in a non-artificial way." - Kelly Francis, Whenua Warriors Trust",

Several other events for Māori communities are also being held in Kaikohe, Tauranga, Kawakawa and Kaitaia throughout the week.

"We strongly feel that continuing to engage with and connect with Māoritanga, whakapapa and identity is an important way for all to maintain mental wellbeing. We hope these five workshops are useful ways to help our Māori communities reconnect with traditional practices, and enhance wellbeing along the way," says Selah Hart, Chief Operations Manager from Hāpai Te Hauora.

This year, the theme for MHAW has woven together the Five Ways to Wellbeing with the nights of the Maramataka, guided by Rereata Makiha who is renowned in Maramataka and astronomy.

"MHAW is an opportunity to be part of the revitalisation of Māori ancestral knowledge of creation traditions and the Maramataka. Strengthening the connection with our identity means building resilience to prevent mental health issues," MHF Chief Executive Shaun Robinson says.

Both Hāpai Te Hauora and the Mental Health Foundation believe weaving the Maramataka into the campaign maximises connection with the natural world and boosts wellbeing.

"Māori creation traditions and whakapapa are core to New Zealand’s strong relationship with nature and knowing and understanding these relationships strengthens our identity as a nation," MHF Māori development manager Ellen Norman says.

"Knowing the history of our maunga, and when and where to gather kaimoana and kai from the ngahere, increases a sense of connection, identity and belonging," she says.

Ellen encourages people to take a closer look at the campaign’s new design, created by Auckland-based Māori design agency Fly, which includes a te reo Māori poster.

Key Māori elements prominently feature, including Ranginui, Papatūānuku, maunga, awa, whenua, kete, kaimoana, marae and hongi.

To learn more about Mental Health Awareness Week, visit www.mhaw.nz