Māori communities are collecting mauri (life force) within kōhatu or stone from their turangawaewae enabling them to bring nature indoors this Mental Health Awareness Week.

This year’s theme encourages people to connect to nature for their mental wellbeing. In workplaces, people can’t always access the green and blue spaces around them as much as they would like, but a slice of nature can be brought indoors.

“Bringing a kōhatu or stone is bringing life force or energy into a workplace,” says Mental Health Foundation Māori development manager Ellen Norman.

Ellen has gathered kōhatu from Maungapiko and sand, shells and rocks from Te Oneroa o Tohe 90 Mile Beach, that sit on her desk at work.

“It grounds me and gives me the energy to continue to work in an environment that’s a bit of a concrete jungle.”

She says the kōhatu are physical reminders that help her when she feels disconnected from her maunga.

“It’s a piece of home that represents safety and nurturing. It’s a spiritual connection to signify that my tupuna are looking after me, and a resilience I carry with me, knowing that whatever situation I get into, I know they’re looking after me.”

Read about Mental Health Awareness Week