Te Whare Tapawhä is an holistical Mäori paradigm of total wellbeing (Durie 1985) that has provided a foundation for many Mäori health and education initiatives and policies. The four-sided model, incorporating taha wairua, taha hinengaro, taha whänau and taha tinana reflects a distinctively Mäori approach to wellbeing, and advocates equal balance of all four key elements to achieve best outcomes. When te whare tapawhä was first being developed, there was an initial overemphasis placed on the physical dimension at the expense of spiritual, intellectual and social aspects, at least in health and education services. However, ironically, taha tinana is now often overlooked as an essential component of wellbeing.
This paper describes an initiative to incorporate health and fitness studies as foundational elements within a Mäori tertiary education setting – Te Wänanga o Raukawa. The proposed programme provides an approach to healthy living, which will incorporate customary Mäori values that are consistent with the wänanga philosophy, relevant to both rangatahi and pakeke, and built on theoretical and practical dimensions. Within the programme, exercise and nutrition are emphasised, and importance is placed on the development of a kawa to engage students in the learning process and to adopt practices that are consistent with healthy lifestyles. To that end, Te Wänanga o Raukawa is in the process of developing an academic programme that will include te taha tinana as integral to all courses of study at both undergraduate and post-graduate level. The programme recognises the opportunities for active health promotion within a tertiary education setting and also acknowledges the link between good health and optimal educational achievement. The paper concludes that opportunities for gains in both health and education may present through the application of an integrated approach to exercise and nutrition that is aligned to the wider wänanga curriculum and Mäori cultural paradigms.