PūrĀkau-Our Story

Our Vision

Our vision at Toi Te Ora Public Health is lifelong health and wellbeing for all.  Research consistently shows that healthy development in the early years provides the building blocks for lifelong health and wellbeing. The first 1,000 days of a child’s life are a time of great potential and incredible growth.  A baby’s brain is only 15% developed at birth but 85% developed at age three.  Early experiences, relationships and opportunities develop the brain and create a foundation for later health, social and emotional wellbeing.


The establishment of healthy behaviours in a child’s early years increases the likelihood that they will become second nature and continue throughout life. Building Blocks for Hauora is a tool that supports early learning services to invest in this critical stage of life to establish and build healthy foundations for lifelong wellbeing.

Our Pūrākau

Te Pā Harakeke

Building Blocks for Hauora is underpinned by our Pūrākau, Te Pā Harakeke. Te Pā Harakeke represents the strength of whānau. It is based on Te Whare Tapa Whā (the four cornerstones of hauora): taha wairua, taha tinana, taha hinengaro and taha whānau, which are the foundations for effective and meaningful whakawhanaungatanga. It is a model that speaks of collective unity and strength. With advice from local Māori kuia, Building Blocks is guided by the harakeke metaphor.

Whakataukī (Proverb)

Hutia te rito o te harakeke

Kei hea te kōmako e kō?

Ki mai ki ahau

He aha te mea nui o te ao;

Māku e kī atu

He tangata, he tangata, he tangata!

If the centre of the harakeke is removed,

where will the bell bird sing?

If I was asked what was the most important thing in the world;

I will tell you

It is people, it is people, it is people!


The whakataukī highlights how Māori refer to harakeke as a whānau. The whakataukī also reflects Māori belief that without tamariki, there is no continuation or whakapapa. The harakeke represents the strength of our whānau, and protection of our tamariki and the most vulnerable. The most inner leaf is te rito (children), the inner leaves are awhi rito (parents), and the outer leaves are tūpuna (grandparents). This metaphor highlights the importance of nurturing all parts of the harakeke in order to maintain the survival and wellbeing of whānau.

Te raranga - te whatu

Harakeke is used to create taonga using raranga (weaving) techniques like he whiri (braiding) and he whatu (binding). These techniques can symbolise different meanings and understanding of hauora from within both Te Ao Māori and Te Ao Pakeha perspectives. All are interwoven, as in the weaving together of new and old knowledge of hauora and wellbeing in a pathway for whānau to achieve toi ora (optimum health).


Whatu is a binding weave, which provides the base or foundation from which mātauranga (knowledge) originates and can be further interwoven with new knowledge to extend this. With each harakeke strand, you add strength to your whatu and increase the holding capacity and utility of your kete or what is being woven.


The strength of the whānau lies in their ability to weave together a lasting imprint for future generations (ngā mokopuna). Alongside whānau, an early learning service is entrusted with nurturing te rito. Building Blocks can support early learning services to look at hauora and wellbeing through a sustainable lens, at the organisation, environment and individual level. By weaving many strands of knowledge and ideas a service can ensure it is a place that supports positive influence on achieving toi ora (optimum health). Together we will strengthen te whatu and ensure protection of te pā harakeke.

He Awa Whiria

Whiria is a braiding weave and can be connected to the concept of he awa whiria, a braided river. The awa never flows in a straight line; it weaves and turns with the currents. This reflects the health needs of an individual, whānau or community. Each bend and changing channel in the awa represents whānau choices and the important role early learning services can play to support whānau and tamariki on their journey to hauora.

Reference and acknowledgement

• Whaia Ngamoni Huata - Te Arawa Tuhourangi Ngāti Wahiao, Mataatua Tuhoe and Tainui
• Whaia Mere Black - Tuhoe, Whakatohea and Ngāti Awa
• Pūrākau: Māori Myths Edited by Witi Ihimaera and Whiti Hereaka
• Mason Durie: Te Whare Tapa Whā
• Te Hiringa: Toi Te Ora Public Health’s Māori Equity Tool
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Our Partners

Cancer Society DOC EastBay Eastern Bay Healthy Families Heart Foundation Manaaki Ora Mental Health Sports Bay of Plenty Toi Tangata Te Whatu Ora