CANTA #11 2019

Page 8


I’m so passionate about this CANTA issue’s theme, yet I couldn’t help recoiling at the idea of overused buzzwords, clichés or giving unsolicited advice on how you should ‘self-care.’ Instead, I’ll offer some good ol’ linguistic analysis, and practice some bicultural competency as best a Pākehā can, so get nerdy with me (?) Still reading? Cool, thanks, you’re a dream <3

Flexing Muscle



I see taking care of yourself is both an art form and a skill: especially since when you need to take care of yourself most is typically when you feel least capable of doing so. Therein lies a conundrum: how do we keep self-caring when we’re at our worst? This is why it’s a skill – we must flex that muscle, like we would for our memory or fitness. It’s a discipline.

The Art of Caring for Ourselves

While I am a complete pēpi to te Ao Māori, and to hauora, even the little I have learned so far has taught me a more holistic view. I would love to see more te reo Māori in CANTA, and international languages too – we’ve got so many passionate writers, this article is my contributionto this.

He aha te hauora? First of all, let’s look at the word hauora. What are its components? If we break down the word hauora, in its most basic form, we have two smaller words. Hau, and ora.

Te Whare Tapa Whā Indigenous knowledge in general needs far more exploration, particularly for those of us who are Pākehā within a paradigm that places western thought at its core. These four walls of our whare symbolise different aspects of wellbeing and have equal importance.

-Taha Hinengaro/Mental health

- Watching your self-talk: being respectful, gentle and positive

- Sleeping enough

- Seeking help when you need it

- Disconnecting from social media

Taha Whānau/Social health

- Hanging with friends & whānau

- Volunteering your time

It can also mean ‘breath,’ ‘wind’ or ‘air,’ depending on context.

- D&M chats

Ora: meaning ‘to be alive, well, safe, recovered, healthy, fit’ (when functioning as a verb).

-Taha Tinana/Physical health

Hau: meaning ‘vital essence’ or ‘vitality’ of a person.

But also, as a noun, meaning ‘life, vitality.’

But Abby, why is it an artform? Because to me, looking after ourselves is actually beautiful. We generally consider loving other people as beautiful - so too is doing this for ourselves. It’s also challenging and takes regular practice and effort – again, in the same way that art does.

NB: the greeting ‘kia ora’ literally means ‘be well,’ yet is often translated as ‘hello.’

It should be mandatory to learn how to selfcare in school: we are never not in need of this practice. We should always try our best to take care of ourselves; that is how we cope, and how we get through the hard stuff.

So hauora, which is often equated to ‘wellbeing,’ is more comprehensive. It’s not just ‘being well’ in a physical or mental way. It’s concerned with a person’s ‘vital essence,’ their ‘breath,’ wellness, safety and health. When we translate/whakapākehā this concept, we can actually unknowingly diminish or misinterpret it.

Our wellbeing is so important, and it’s crucial to our functioning day to day as university students. Especially when we factor in all the stresses in our lives. Many of us are dealing with: -academic stress; -relationship stress; with friends, family, romantic partners -work stress; -financial stress; -the list goes on (and on.) (tag urself e haumi).


But I’m not here to depress us by reminding us of all our problems and pressures – I’m discussing how we can stay balanced and retain some sanity in the jigsaw puzzle that is our wellbeing. Considering we’ve just celebrated it, I also wanted to give a nod to te wiki o te reo Māori, further the kaupapa of kia kaha te reo Māori, and to challenge myself by compare and contrasting Pākehā and Māori concepts.

He aha te take o te hauora?

Contrastingly, ‘wellbeing’ is defined as “the state of being happy, healthy, or prosperous.” Immediately this strikes me as being 1. More concise, and 2. Less holistic. While there are some ideas in common between these two concepts, there are also fundamental differences.

- Exercising

- Eating well

- Regular check-ups

-Taha Wairua/Spiritual health

- Self-expression (through music, art, poetry etc)

- Acknowledging ātua/spirituality (however it’s relevant to you),

- religious rituals and practices

Ko tēnei tētahi mea rerekē, engari ko te tuku o te Reo Māori tōku tūmanako. Mō te Wiki o te Reo Māori, i whakaaro ahau he pai ki te tuhi i te Reo Māori. He waka eke noa. Mā te whāia ki te kōrero te reo Māori, e ako ana ahau o te ao Māori. Ki ahau, he tino rerekē ki te ao Pākehā tēnei whakaaro. Engari, he tino pai rawa ki ahau te whakaaro o te whare tapa whā.