Connecting to the taiao, or the natural environment can have many benefits for our hauora including:
Improved health and wellbeing: Spending time in taiao has been shown to have numerous health benefits, including reducing stress, improving mood, and enhancing cognitive function. In Māori culture, the taiao is considered to be a source of healing and can help to restore balance and harmony within the body and mind.
This whakataukī really emphasizes this relationship and connection we have to the taiao -
Deepening cultural understanding and identity: The taiao is an integral part of Māori culture and traditional mātauranga. By connecting to the natural environment, we can gain a deeper understanding of our Māoritanga, whakapapa and knowledge bases. The taiao offers a gateway to connect to our Tīpuna. We can retrace and learn through exploring the environments they lived within and the relationships they held with the taiao.
Developing a sense of kaitiakitanga: Kaitiakitanga refers to the Māori concept of guardianship and stewardship of the environment. By connecting to the taiao, we can develop a sense of responsibility and connection to the environment and become more mindful of our impact on the natural world.
Enhancing taha wairua: The natural world is imbedded with mauri and wairua - connecting to the taiao can help to deepen our spiritual connection to the world around us. By developing a sense of awe and reverence for the natural world, we can experience a deeper sense of wairua and mauri and connection to something greater than ourselves.
Ideas on how to connect:
- Visit and explore the taiao near your whare: Spend time visiting a nearby beach, forest, or park. Take a walk or hike, sit and listen to the sounds of the taiao, and observe the plants, animals, and environment around you.
- Learn about the Māori creation story and the significance of nature: The Māori creation (each whānau, hāpu and iwi have a different one) story tells the story of how the world and all living beings were created, and it emphasizes the importance of nature and our relationship to it. Learning about this story and the significance of nature in Māori culture can help you to understand and appreciate the environment around you more deeply.
- Participate in environmental conservation and restoration projects: Get involved in local initiatives to protect and restore natural areas. You can volunteer to plant trees, remove invasive species, or clean up litter from beaches and rivers. This is a great way to give back to the environment and make a positive impact in your community.
- Practice sustainability: Incorporate sustainable practices into your daily life, such as reducing waste, conserving water, and using environmentally-friendly products. In Māori culture, sustainability is a key value, and it is important to take care of the environment for future generations.
- Learn from traditional knowledge holders: Korero with kaumātua, Kuia and tohunga about the taiao - whether it be pūrākau, rongoa or the histories of the taiao you visit.