From the CEO Health is wealth

Mar 31, 2019

Chief Executive Officer,
Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu
Arihia Bennett

Another year has rolled around and it seems like it happened quicker than ever – maybe it’s just what happens to your perception as you get older, noting that the clock is ticking. Or perhaps it is a reflection of the number of activities I am trying to cram into my life. We are surrounded by so many cautions to take care of our wellbeing: watch what we eat, watch our blood pressure, become vegetarian, become vegan, get plenty of sleep, exercise, walk, yoga, meditate, mindfulness – the list goes on. I’ve even monitored how many steps I take around my vast front lawn, noting that even my 85-year-old father is beating me in those stakes.

So what’s my point here? As an iwi, we are focused on intergenerational outcomes that will grow our tribal footprint into the future. We strive to continue building our economic wealth, while strengthening Ngāi Tahu communities across our tribal takiwā and beyond. These lofty goals are set to take us beyond the horizon, so we ourselves need to be match fit. This means taking stock of our own personal wellbeing so that we don’t become a liability or a health risk to our own whānau.

A regular physical check-up is a must, it’s proactive and in some cases it can be a lifesaver. It also sends positive, responsible messages to our whānau so that they too will build this into a regular practice.

If we are being truly responsible, we also need to check our emotional and mental wellbeing. Unfortunately, in the past and even today, there are social stigmas. But with community champions like 2019 New Zealander of the Year Mike King, and others including Sir John Kirwan, helping our communities by bringing these conversations into the open, this is changing. From my experience you don’t have to go far to lift the cover on this one, and it takes courage to outgrow your personal prejudices and learn how to make yourself useful to those needing this support. The benefits can be rewarding for all.

The government has recently jumped on board to measure our nation’s success by setting a wellbeing budget. This makes sense, and it fits with the Ngāi Tahu aspirations of regenerating our people, our land, and our culture. This means health must always come first, and as a leader, this is the “wealthy” meaningful side that motivates me most.