Hauora – exploring programmes to promote and support the wellbeing of ākonga

By Diana Wilkes

When planning your learning space design and developing the education brief for your new school or rebuild, it is important to give consideration to how the hauora and wellbeing of ākonga will be promoted, supported and monitored.

What will you implement? How does this programme connect to your school’s vision and values? How will you monitor the effectiveness of the wellbeing programmes you select? How can learning space design contribute to hauora?

While some change can be exhilarating, some change can be confronting. Designing robust systems to monitor the impacts of change enables leaders to celebrate success and infuse additional support. We are aware of events in Aotearoa in recent years, including earthquakes, severe storms and flooding and the Covid pandemic which, alongside trauma such as poverty, bullying and domestic violence, have led to increasing numbers of our ākonga speaking of feeling anxious, depressed, isolated and having a loss of mana. As educators, we realise it is urgent to have measures in place that promote the hauora, wellbeing and social competencies of our ākonga. Not only is this important for the mental and emotional health of ākonga, but those who have strategies to manage their hauora and wellbeing also have better academic outcomes and social behaviours. 

The Ministry of Education recognises this with their provision of different programmes to support ākonga hauora and wellbeing, such as Positive Behaviour for Learning, Social Workers in Schools, and the Ka ora, Ka ako healthy lunch programme. In September 2022, the Ministry of Education released two guides to help schools better support the hauora and wellbeing of ākonga, which will be available to download in term 4 from TKI or Kauwhata Reo:

The following are some of the programmes available as whole school approaches to promote the hauora/well-being of our ākonga. These programmes all align with the New Zealand Curriculum and can be implemented ahead of a change process:

Whole school approach: Behaviour, hauora and wellbeing

  • Positive Behaviour for Learning and Huakina Mai identify appropriate behaviours for different settings within the school to promote the wellbeing of ākonga, increase educational achievement and create a learning focussed school culture.
  • Te Ara Whakamana provides a framework to co-construct a plan for each ākonga with their whanau and Kaiako to enhance their mana, hauora and emotional self-regulation. The plan includes goals and strategies to support and monitor hauora, wellbeing and behaviour. Stories, kōrero and whakatauki are used to illustrate how ākonga could respond to challenges they face. It promotes restorative practices.
  • Pause, Breathe, Smile was developed by the Mental Health Foundation, and fully funded by Southern Cross Health Society, as a wellbeing and mindfulness programme. It utilises Sir Mason Durie’s model of hauora – Te Whare Tapa Whā, as the foundation for the programme. PLD and resources are provided to support the implementation of Pause, Breathe, Smile, and the programme is regularly evaluated to monitor impact. Read a case study about Ormiston Junior College’s implementation of the programme here: https://pausebreathesmile.nz/case-study-pause-breathe-smile-school-based-mindfulness-programme-implementation-ormiston-junior-college-year-7-year-10/

Restorative practices enhancing mana

  • Positive Behaviour for Learning: Restorative justice and Te Mana Tikitiki techniques to restore and ensure ensure positive, respectful relationships following disagreement and conflict. Te Mana Tikitiki nurtures mana in our ākonga, using te reo and tikanga.
  • Te Ara Whakamana provides a framework to co-construct a plan for each ākonga with their whanau and Kaiako to enhance their mana, hauora and emotional self-regulation. It promotes restorative practices.

Crisis and Trauma support

  • Te Rito Toi uses an arts based approach to support ākonga following a traumatic event or crisis. The programme helps ākonga to adjust to the changes in their lives and supports their journey to social and emotional wellbeing by addressing concerns and questions.

Recognising and managing emotions

  • Zones of Regulation was developed by Leah Kuypers, and uses four different coloured zones to sort and group feelings, and levels of alertness. Ākonga become familiar with recognising their emotions and their zone, and use strategies to manage feelings and behaviour so they can meet their goals.


  • KiVa is a bullying prevention programme developed in Finland. The aim of this programme is to prevent bullying and teach strategies to manage cases of bullying. There are three aspects to KiVa: Prevention to stop bullying occurring; Intervention tools which schools and students use to end situation where bullying occurs; Annual monitoring through an online survey completed by students, providing feedback to the school in areas for improvement.

Whānau support

  • Positive Behaviour for Learning The Incredible Years Teacher (IYT), Parent (IYP) and Autism (IYA) programmes provide teachers and parents with strategies to create positive learning and home environments, and develop ākonga social and emotional well-being and communication skills.
  • Te Ara Whakamana provides a framework to co-construct a plan for each ākonga with their whānau and Kaiako to enhance their mana, hauora and emotional self-regulation. The plan includes goals and strategies to support and monitor hauora/well-being and behaviour.


  • Mental Health Education and Hauora: Teaching interpersonal skills, resilience, and wellbeing is a resource for teaching about mental health, including lesson ideas and activities. The Ministry of Education has partnered with NZHEA to deliver hard copies of the book to schools with year 7 students up. 
  • Sparklers is a digital resource of hauora/well-being tasks created initially in response to the effects of the Canterbury earthquakes on ākonga. Using Sir Mason Durie’s model of hauora, Te Whare Tapa Whā, as the foundation for the programme, the activities can be used with ākonga to help them socially, emotionally and behaviourally following a traumatic event or crisis.
  • Life Education has been working with schools, providing interactive programmes and lessons focussed on ākonga health, hauora and well-being. Kaiako are able to select from a wide range of programmes suitable for the ages of their ākonga to meet their particular needs. Online resources are available to support in-school programmes, with support from visits from the Life Education mobile classrooms and educators.

Monitoring and Self-review

Monitoring a school’s hauora and wellbeing programme provides valuable information as to the effectiveness of the programme used in promoting hauora and wellbeing, appropriate social behaviours, and a safe school environment. Some of these programmes, such as PB4L, Te Ara Whakamana and Pause, Breathe, Smile, include monitoring and evaluation tools. NZCER has also developed the Wellbeing@School online survey, completed by ākonga and Kaiako, as a self-review tool to evaluate how a safe and caring a school’s environment and culture is. The Wellbeing@School survey includes the Inclusive Practices tool to help evaluate how well a school includes ākonga in all aspects of school life.

The impact of transformational change on learning and wellbeing can profoundly affect ākonga, your school culture, and your strategy. Therefore, continually monitoring the change process and its impacts are critical to gauge the need for additional support. Change, such as a rebuild, can be rewarding and productive when there has been an engagement process. Yet it can also be difficult or problematic, if stakeholders have not been engaged in decision making. Therefore, it is not only imperative for school leaders to involve as many people in the change process itself, they must also consider to what extent change impacts on learning and wellbeing, how this will be monitored, and what proactive measures can be taken to develop social and emotional wellbeing to mitigate negative impact.