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Insight #1

"People are using Maramataka to reflect and act on their individual and whānau wellbeing."


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Maramataka Wānanga with Rangatahi

Meretini Bennett-Huxtable Rautaki Māori and Maramataka Practitioner


The Maramataka, also known as "the fall or turn of the moon," is a traditional time measurement system used by indigenous communities, including the Whanganui, Rangitīkei, and Ruapehu regions. It relies on the lunar phases and incorporates a sensory understanding of the environment. The specific details of the Maramataka may vary from region to region, depending on local environmental factors and signs.

In the Whanganui, Rangitīkei, and Ruapehu regions, each lunar month begins with Whiro, the new moon. The Maramataka serves as a practical daily guide, allowing individuals to approach each day with purpose and awareness.

Historically, the Maramataka played a central role in guiding various activities, ranging from fishing and gardening to educational gatherings and travel. Our ancestors were deeply connected to the environment and the spiritual world, and this connection was reflected in their organic use of the Maramataka.

Today, efforts are being made by organisations like Healthy Families WRR to reintroduce some of these traditional practices to reconnect people with their environment and promote overall well-being. One way to achieve this connection is by aligning daily activities with the energy levels and gravitational pull of the moon. Resting during low-energy phases and being active during high-energy phases can optimize one's physical and mental state.

Additionally, adjusting food intake to match energy expenditure on specific days is encouraged, emphasising the importance of consuming nourishing foods when more energy is burned.

The Maramataka can also be integrated into work life, helping individuals identify auspicious days for meetings, report writing, initiating new projects, or simply enjoying outdoor activities and walking meetings.

For those interested in incorporating the teachings of the Maramataka into their daily lives, there are opportunities to learn and explore this traditional knowledge. It offers a pathway to greater awareness, connection with the environment, and ultimately, improved health and well-being for individuals and their communities.



At the heart of this initiative lies Te Ao Māori, Māori worldview that observes systems in their entirety. It emphasises the interconnectedness of all elements, from people and place to experience and narrative. Viewing mental health and addiction challenges through this indigenous framework leads to a transformative shift in perspective. Rather than merely responding to crisis, the focus shifts to fostering collective well-being.


The initiative leverages Maramataka Māori, a prevention solution organising system that provides a Māori perspective on creating a holistic continuum of care. Meretini and her team have taken a unique approach by using Maramataka to analyse five years' worth of data related to mental health crisis and family harm. The results have been enlightening, revealing significant patterns in crisis occurrences, especially during specific phases of the Maramataka.


What sets this initiative apart is its emphasis on early intervention and prevention, a critical departure from the traditional crisis-centric model. By identifying patterns and leveraging Mātauranga Māori (ancestral knowledge), the initiative encourages a paradigm shift. It calls for a system grounded in tikanga, one that is holistic and whanau-centered, taking a life-course approach to wellness. In essence, it champions a human and eco-centric continuum of care.


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The approach also incorporates design thinking, a problem-solving methodology rooted in a human-centered perspective. Indigenous design thinking, as practiced in this initiative, takes an eco-centric view into account. It involves a multi-step process that includes problem identification, idea generation, rough prototyping, user testing, and refinement.


In an era where mental health and addiction challenges are increasingly prevalent, the Te Ao Māori Prevention initiative represents a refreshing and innovative approach. It underscores the significance of indigenous perspectives, cultural values, and holistic strategies in addressing these complex issues. By combining Māori wisdom with modern problem-solving methodologies like design thinking, Meretini Huxtable Bennett and her team are not only addressing immediate crises but also paving the way for a more resilient and well-connected community.

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Click the logo above for a printable information pamphlet, created by
Nga Tangata Tiaki o Whanganui

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