Mental Health Awareness Week set to kick off around Aotearoa/New Zealand 23-29 September

20 Sep, 2019


Explore your Way to Wellbeing - Whāia te ara hauora, Whitiora is the theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW). Starting on Monday 23 September, over 6,000 people from workplaces, kura, schools and community groups across the country have registered to participate in activities to boost their mental wellbeing. 

Mental Health Foundation (MHF) chief executive, Shaun Robinson says MHAW is a time to take notice of our mental wellbeing and recognise that it’s a taonga/treasure that needs to be nurtured. 

“Exploring your way to wellbeing means taking the time to notice the simple experiences, actions, relationships and surroundings that make you feel good every day, and prioritise them more often,” Mr Robinson says. 

“We know one in five of us will experience some mental distress each year. Most of these people will recover and live well with the right support. Awareness of the importance of looking after our mental wellbeing has never been higher, and this week gives us the opportunity to put that awareness into action, with the chance to engage in various activities that work best for you.”

Daily activities for MHAW are based on Te Whare Tapa Whā, a model developed by Māori health advocate and researcher Sir Mason Durie, which describes health as a wharenui/meeting house with four walls.These walls represent taha wairua/spiritual wellbeing; taha hinengaro/mental and emotional wellbeing; taha tinana/physical wellbeing; and taha whānau/family and social wellbeing. Our connection to the whenua/land forms the foundation. The five themes will give everyone a chance to engage in different activities each day and find out which things uplift their wellbeing. 

“With spring here, there are plenty of opportunity to get out and about with your whānau and work colleagues,” Mr Robinson says. “Getting to know each other and appreciating our similarities and differences is invaluable, particularly at times when support is needed. MHAW gives us the opportunity to share in activities and connect with each other,” he says.

Kiwis throughout the regions are getting involved by hosting MHAW events within their local communities. A daily happy hour on the Wellington Cable Car is offering a free one way journey each day of the week; Ngāti Kahu Social and Health Service’s “walk the talk” Hikoi and Street Carnival is taking place in Kaitaia; Sport Canterbury is hosting a hike over the Port Hills in Christchurch, and Supporting Families is putting on a variety of wellbeing themed activities for the whole whānau at Mangere and Otara Town Centres. More events throughout the country can be viewed here.

Another key activity throughout the week is the MHAW Wellbeing photo challenge. Daily themes are based on Te Whare Tapa Whā to help people explore their way to wellbeing and discover the things that make them feel good. Register here. Plus there’s a Nikon D3500 camera, valued at $799 up for grabs. 

To learn more about Mental Health Awareness Week visit the website for ideas on how you can celebrate mental wellbeing in your workplace, kura, school or home and download resources.

Fluent speakers of Te Reo Māori and English are available for media comment. 

For more information contact:

Mark Wilson                             
Senior Public Relations and Media Engagement Officer
Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand
Cell: 021 998 949

More info: 

  1. To learn more about Mental Health Awareness Week, visit
  2. Learn about the Māori health model Te Whare Tapa Whā, which underpins MHAW.