Te whare tapa whā

Te whare tapa whā is a model of health that represents health and wellbeing as a wharenui (meeting house) with four walls. Leading Māori health advocate, Sir Mason Durie developed the model in 1984.

The wharenui walls are made up of:

  • Taha tinana – physical wellbeing
  • Taha hinengaro – mental wellbeing
  • Taha whanāu – family, community, and social wellbeing
  • Taha wairua – spiritual wellbeing.

The whenua (land) forms the foundation.

Te Whare Tapa Wha image showing the four wharenui walls


It’s important to take care of our wharenui walls to maintain good health and wellbeing for ourselves and those around us.

We need to give each wall of the wharenui equal time and energy to maintain balance in our lives. If we spend more time on one of our wharenui walls than the others or neglect one wall all together, it will affect our wellbeing.

Taha tinana – physical wellbeing

  • Key aspects – Our physical health, growth and development.
  • Themes – Good physical health supports overall wellbeing.

Taha tinana is about how our body grows, feels and moves, and how we care for it. Being physically well helps us to feel mentally well and improves our overall wellbeing.

Sometimes our tinana might face a setback (like an injury) or is not  where we’d like it to be. What’s important is that we do what we can to look after it.

Taha hinengaro – mental wellbeing

  • Key aspects – Our mental health and ability to communicate, to think, and to feel.
  • Themes – Our mind and body are inseparable.

Taha hinengaro is about our mind, thoughts, feelings and conscience and the things we do to enrich them. Taking good care of our hinengaro improves resilience in coping with the ups and downs of life. It also supports healthy ways of thinking and communicating.

Taha whanāu – family and community

  • Key aspects – Our connections with others and capacity to belong, to care, and to share.
  • Themes – As individuals we offer unique contributions to our communities and wider social systems.

Taha whānau is about the people we care about and share our lives with who provide a sense of belonging and support. Whānau includes all the relationships that matter to us – our family, friends, hoamahi (colleagues) and community. Positive connection with our whānau contributes to our wellbeing and is a key part of our sense of identity.

Taha wairua – spiritual wellbeing

  • Key aspects  Our spiritual, cultural and environmental connections and experiences.
  • Themes – Our sense of self and the things that bring meaning and purpose to our lives.

Taha wairua is about our connections with people, places and spaces that are dear to us. It is often overlooked, but plays a big role in acknowledging and nurturing who we are and where we  have come from. Wairua means different things to different people. There is no right or wrong way to take care of or experience wairua.


This information was adapted from the Ministry of Health Māori Health Models information.