Taking care of your wairua (spiritual wellbeing)

Key points about taking care of your wairua while COVID-19 is circulating

  • COVID-19 is a physical illness but living with COVID in the community takes a toll on our wairua or spiritual wellbeing, too.
  • There's lots of places you can go for help to take care of your wairua.
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Video: Looking after your wairua (part 1)

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(Healthify He Puna Waiora, NZ and Te Whatu Ora | Health New Zealand, Waitematā, 2022) 
Descriptive transcript in English
View transcript in Cook Islands Māori (part 1part 2part 3)
View transcript in Niuean (part 1part 2part 3)
View transcript in Tokelauan (part 1part 2part 3)

In te ao Māori (the Māori world) everything is connected. No one thing can be looked at without looking at the other things that affect or influence it.

A model of hauora (holistic wellbeing) commonly used in health is Te Whare Tapa Whā by Ta Mason Durie. He describes hauora as a whare (house) where 4 walls and a foundation are needed to provide a sturdy shelter. Each taha, or wall, shows an aspect of our wellbeing: 

  • taha wairua (spiritual)
  • taha hinengaro (mental and emotional)
  • taha tinana (physical)
  • taha whānau (family and social)
  • whenua (the foundation) – your whakapapa, connections, environment, places you belong, your culture and identity.

Image credit: Mental Health Foundation, NZ

Wairua is personal for every person. There's no right or wrong way to feel or think about our wairua. It can be about your relationship with nature, people and culture. It could be your whakapapa (whānau connection) in the past, present or future. Your wairua can be who and what your are, where you have come form and where you are going. It could also be how you show up in the world, or how you see yourself. 

For some people, wairua is also about faith or religious beliefs. This includes belief in a higher power, or an internal connection to the universe.

We encourage you to think about what wairua means to you personally and the things you might do to uplift your wairua.

Paying attention to your wairua is  as important as taking care of the other aspects of your health and wellbeing. A person’s wairua is best supported by thinking about all the things that make us feel happy, healthy and content. In other words, a holistic and connected approach. Read more about finding the balance.(external link)(external link)

Feeling comfortable in your identity, values and beliefs, helps you to feel secure in who you are and what you stand for. When you are content within yourself you can cope better with challenges, build strong whānau relationships and discover things that uplift you. Nourishing your wairua might be described as ‘feeding your soul’ or feeling a deep sense of fulfilment.

Image credit: Healthify He Puna Waiora, NZ

If you or someone in your home is sick, you may need to isolate, which may take you away from the people, places and activities that support your wairua. Being online may not be your chosen way of staying in touch but it’s important that you do, so try to think of other ways you can stay in touch with friends and whānau. You could pick up the phone, write a letter, or arrange a group Zoom or Whatsapp.

Even if you don’t ever get COVID-19, we’ve all been living through a difficult time since 2020, with lockdowns and many limits we’re not used to having. The effect of this can build up over time.

  • Stay connected to people.
  • Explore your own culture or language.
  • Find creative ways to do things differently.
  • Learn what nourishes your soul.
  • Attend to the small things.
  • Reach out to help others.
  • Journalling, drawing, mediation, yoga.
  • Get help when needed.

Here's a list of all sorts of ways you can take care of yourself.(external link)(external link)

Your church, marae, temple, mosque or synagogue offers spiritual support, as well as community and practical help. Support from whānau and friends who understand what you're coping with (as they are too) is really important. So reach out and let people know how you are feeling and you can support each other.

Here's some links to churches for specific community groups in Auckland:

If you ever feel you're not coping, it's important to talk with a trained health professional.


  • Need to talk? (1737– free call or text) 
  • The Depression Helpline (0800 111 757) 757 or free text 4202 
  • Healthline (0800 611 116)
  • Youthline (0800 376 633)
  • The Lowdown Text 5626 for support to help young people recognise and understand depression or anxiety.
  • Alcohol Drug Helpline (0800 787 797)

Digital tools

Support to get through COVID-19(external link) Mental Health Foundation NZ
Spirituality and awe (external link)All Right?, NZ
Matariki – a time to reflect, celebrate and look forward(external link) All Right? NZ
Five ways to wellbeing(external link) Mental Health Foundation, NZ
Worksheet – refuelling the tank, fuel in, fuel out(external link) Mental Health Foundation, NZ
64 ways to take care of yourself(external link)(external link) and So what do I do?(external link) Mental Health Foundation and Employment Assistance Programme, NZ
Finding the balance worksheet(external link) Mental Health Foundation, NZ
Auckland events(external link) Auckland Council, NZ. Information about events on in Tamaki Makaurau


Explore your way to wellbeing(external link) Mental Health Foundation, NZ, 2019
Ola manuia – Pacific health and wellbeing action plan 2020-2025(external link) Ministry of Health, NZ, 2020
Finding balance – Te whare tapa whā (for individuals)(external link) Mental Health Foundation, NZ
Aroā Wellbeing(external link) Te Aka Whai Ora, NZ, 2023
An online resource and activities library developed by rangatahi Māori, for rangatahi Māori, to support young people to improve their oranga wellbeing


  1. Taha wairua(external link) Medical Assurance Society, NZ
  2. COVID-19 protection framework – guidelines for places of worship (external link) Unite against COVID-19, NZ 
  3. Finding balance – Te Whare Tapa Whā (external link) Mental Health Foundation, NZ

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Credits: Healthify editorial team. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.

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