Nature-Wellbeing Connection – A Literature Review of Measurements of Connection to Nature Within Indigenous Wellbeing

Andre McLachlan, Cherryl Smith, Jasmine Sampson


Engagement with nature is a core component of wellbeing for Māori the Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa (New Zealand) and other Indigenous cultures worldwide. This was recently emphasised in the COVID-19 lockdown experiences of Māori who were observed engaging with nature in novel ways to maintain this connection, from sharing knowledge of nature through online platforms to re-engaging with planting food gardens around their homes.

This narrative literature review explores existing methods for describing, exploring, and measuring mental and emotional wellbeing for children and teenagers through connection with nature, with a specific focus on Indigenous peoples. This is part of a multi-site research program, Tangata Whenua Tangata Ora: Investigating health gain through whenua initiatives, funded by the Health Research Council. It recommends extending an existing health outcome measure framework, ‘Hua Oranga’ (Durie & Kingi, 1987, 2000; Kingi, 2002), to include a fifth dimension, Te Taiao (the environment or nature). Adding Te Taiao to Hua Oranga allows wellbeing to be viewed in a broader context, as a connection between the individual and their environment.


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