Health Promoting Schools: Promoting hauora/ wellbeing

Student leaders from the Uru Mānuka (Hornby) school cluster developing ideas for future work together at the first 2017 Student Forum.Mental wellbeing is one of the fundamental aspects of total wellbeing/ hauora. The foundation of wellbeing/ hauora is a positive school climate where all feel valued, actively participate, and respect and care for each other. In this environment a strong sense of pride and connectedness is fostered.

Much has been developed to support this important aspect of learning, since the Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health Project launched in April 2012. The Education Review Office clearly states that “student wellbeing is not only an ethical and moral obligation for teachers, leaders and trustees but also a legal responsibility.” (Wellbeing for Success: a resource for schools)

Staff at Community and Public Health use a whole school approach to work in partnership with local schools. Community and Public Health staff involved in such partnerships aim to:

  • promote wellbeing/ hauora for all students and staff;
  • build on the existing strengths of each school;
  • assist in the development of social and physical environments that promotes positive mental, emotional and social health and wellbeing; and
  • support schools’ Health and Physical Education curriculum planned outcomes.

The Health Promoting Schools (HPS) process is used to achieve these results. Staff can also provide information and resources to other schools in Canterbury, South Canterbury and the West Coast on wellbeing/ hauora.

“There is no health without mental health.” – World Health Organisation.

Understanding hauora in our schools

The initial step in the HPS process is to assess the priority needs of the school relating to wellbeing /hauora. This information is used to develop a plan and implement strategies to make the school a better place to learn and work.

The key to successful change lies in a collaborative approach, where staff and students lead the process. Addressing the school ethos, utilising the curriculum and developing strong effective community linkages enables comprehensive structured changes to be made that are specific to the school. The evidence shows that this approach – along with time and commitment – leads to a positive shift in attitudes, knowledge and behaviour across the entire school culture.

Here are examples of how some schools addressed hauora issues:

  • Strengthened the relationships and connections between all members of the school community.
  • Developed personal skills (such as problem solving, conflict resolution), and helped young people to build resilience in the face of life challenges.
  • Established core values that form the basis of the school’s culture and practices.
  • Built links with the wider community.
  • Targetted specific problem areas such as transition between schools, behavioural problems and bullying.
  • Developed student voice, student agency and student leadership through annually run student health leadership forums.
  • Developed strategic wellbeing goals as part of the school charter.
  • Developed student-teacher managed HPS blogs focussing on wellbeing projects in their school.

Useful links to understand hauora in schools

Pastoral care in our schools

Community and Public Health believes in working from a wellness perspective, based on the understanding that young people are valuable and key members of the school community.

It is important to recognise there may be a need for additional mental health intervention within schools and the development of collaborative, effective relationships with external support services. These are seen as opportunities to develop strengths rather than viewed as a problem or deficit. These additional interventions are important in providing a complete overall approach to wellbeing/ hauora for the school, even if only a relatively small proportion of students may need such assistance.

The HPS process assists in establishing an environment where everyone feels physically, socially, emotionally and culturally safe; where they feel they belong and where personal skills and social support enable resilient responses to negative situations.

Schools are an ideal setting to develop a positive environment and build positive social and emotional wellbeing, since students and staff spend a large part of their day there. HPS can assist in the development of strategic planning based around the Wellbeing@School model.

Links to wellbeing models for schools



Download or order resources from the Community Health Information Centre.


For more information, contact:

Richard Wisnesky
Ph: +64 3 378 6833

Contact Richard to give feedback on or ideas for this webpage.

Dimensions of Hauora/ Wellbeing

  • Taha tinana – Physical wellbeing
  • Taha hinengaro – Mental and emotional wellbeing
  • Taha whānau – Social wellbeing
  • Taha wairua – Spiritual wellbeing


Wellbeing and resilience

Teacher practice is the single greatest predictor of student success. – Robert Dunn

Paula Robinson has extracted four definitions of wellbeing from research literature in her book “Practising Positive Education: A Guide to Improve Wellbeing Literacy in Schools”. The one which resonates most when we think about where is and what is wellbeing and resilience in the school setting is:

“Wellbeing is not a beach you go and lie on. It’s a sort of dynamic dance and there’s movement in that all the time and actually it’s the functionality of that movement which actually is true levels of wellbeing.”

The 2007 NZ Curriculum has a clear vision for what we want for our young people and eight comprehensive principles which ‘embody beliefs about what is important and desirable in the school curriculum’.

Suggestion: Use schools wellbeing resilience as a Google search.

Listed below are some sources worth pursuing to develop your understanding.

Reaching In Reaching Out is a resiliency programme offered by the RTLB service – featured in the Term 2 2018 HPS Magazine.

Roots of Action

Dr Marilyn Price-Mitchell founded Roots of Action in 2011 as a way of helping parents, schools, and communities nurture positive youth development–the growth of successful young people ready to become caring family members, innovative workers, engaged citizens, and ethical leaders in the Digital Age. She is a developmental psychologist, researcher, and coach to parents and youth-focused non-profits.

Roots of Action produces a monthly newsletter. This month’s newsletter features using quotes to develop resilience. You can read about the use of quotes to engage children at a variety of developmental levels each month from this link – from primary through to high school to support students as life-long learners.

Resiliency in Action

Resiliency In Action, Inc. is a pioneering publishing and training company founded in 1996 by Nan Henderson, Bonnie Benard, and Nancy Sharp-Light – developed before the word “resiliency” was commonly used! The mission of the company is to share the growing body of social science research that documents how people of all ages bounce back from life challenges of all kinds. The founders also wanted to make the strategies recommended by this research accessible to everyone.

Check out The Resiliency Wheel – could this be a good entry point for discussion about where these attributes are in our 2007 NZ Curriculum?

The Resiliency in Action website has a useful definition regarding resilience worth sharing and discussing especially in the context of school for both staff, students and parents.

The Resiliency in Action website also has some really informative articles and resources, such as:

  • How to be a Turnaround Teacher/ Mentor; and
  • The Foundations of the Resiliency Framework.

For additional information, contact:

0800 WHATSUP (0800 942 87 87)
1pm to 10pm weekdays, and 3pm to 10pm on weekends

0800 37 66 33
Free text to 234

0800 KIDSLINE (0800 54 37 54)

School-based Mental Health Service (Canterbury DHB)
Ph: +64 3 335 4611

Page last updated: 07/06/2018

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