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The Importance of Wai

Wai is important to all of us, we swim, wash, drink and play in it, it’s an essential part of our infrastructure, our water ways impact our environment, it makes up at least 60% of our body and we’re surrounded by it.


In Whanganui wai holds an especially significant place with the recognition of our Awa as its own legal personality, formally acknowledged as an indivisible and living whole, comprising of the Whanganui River from the mountains to the sea, incorporating its tributaries and all its physical and metaphysical elements. From an indigenous perspective wai is intrinsically linked to the well-being of the people.


Given wai is so important and such a valuable commodity there are a number of opportunities for all sectors of our community to look at possibilities for healthy change in relation to water.

The Importance of Wai


Te Awa Tupua o Whanganui

Healthy Families Whanganui Rangitīkei Ruapehu have been working with collaborative stakeholders to activate systems-level change right across our communities.  And the tide is turning, with 37 water only events in the first half of this year reaching over 11,500 people, 10 new water fountains either installed already, or soon to be installed in council parks and playgrounds.


We have focused on positioning water as the first choice of drink because we know that increased consumption of sugar sweetened beverages contributes to poor health outcomes and is detrimental to oral health, particularly for our children.

Making drinking water more readily available across the community with the water only schools initiative, the increase in water only events and the installation of drinking fountains in recreation spaces is all contributing to making the healthy choice easier.


In order to further understand the potential for change within our water system we need to work with the key players such as local and regional councils, Iwi, farmers, industry, local business, tourism, retailers, community groups, as well as whānau and individuals.


If as a community we can increase the value proposition of water, having a greater understanding of it’s importance from both traditional and holistic well-being perspectives, opportunities and solutions for creating healthy change across our wider water system will become evident.


Healthy Families Whanganui Rangitīkei Ruapehu want to work with stakeholders and community to understand how can we improve our water quality, increase access to water across our region, encourage consumption of water and explore opportunities to preserve it for essential use.


If water is life as the saying goes, how important is water to you?

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