Wairoro is a te reo Māori term for the brain, and it is a concept grounded in Māori origins (Hīroa, n.d.). This paper is based on the lead author’s master’s research, in which he created Te Āheinga Pū Reretahi—a model developed to provide a structural and functional foundation of understanding the wairoro. Māori life expectancy is increasing (Ministry of Health, 2019), and Māori are now also experiencing the complications of wairoro illnesses that are associated with an ageing population (Dudley et al., 2014, 2019).
This article draws on the lead author’s 2016 master’s thesis focusing on how Hauteruruku ki Puketeraki, a hapū waka club based in Karitāne, 40 kilometres northeast of Dunedin, is connecting people to the ocean using waka. As a result of the club’s activities, hauora is flourishing within this community. Māori connections to the ocean are complex and diverse, and in this article the authors highlight that waka are a way in which to establish and maintain these connections. In the context of Hauteruruku ki Puketeraki, the research found that connection to the ocean was synonymous with identity.
This article explores and expands the discourse around the whare tapa whā which has been depicted in New Zealand curricula and in educational literature as a contemporary Māori model of health, as a Māori perspective of health, as a Māori philosophy of hauora and as a four-sided meeting house.