Here’s one ritual I do every week that helps me take care of myself. It’s from a book by Stephen Covey (1995) called ‘First Things First’ and aligns nicely with Te Whare Tapa Wha (Durie, 1998) as well. 

We have at least four needs every week:

  1. We need to live
  2. We need to love
  3. We need to learn
  4. We need to leave a legacy. 

Mason Durie and Stephen Covey actually published their first versions of these two models in the same year, so there’s a lovely fusion of global wisdom. The beauty of Te Whare Tapa Wha and indigenous perspectives here in Aotearoa specifically increase the interconnectivity of these four needs and locate a fifth: whenua. 

Whare/houses, much like people, don’t float around. We’re grounded on earth with foundations and a relationship to the environment. Whenua is the kupu for both land and placenta, which connects us to whakapapa – those who have been before and those who will come after (I’ve acquired this whakaaro through oral learning and would love a published reference if anyone has one!). 

So the ritual I do is devoted to the first few minutes of every week. I make a cup of coffee (currently enjoying decaf!), open my diary, carefully select some coloured pens, and reflect. I still use a paper diary mostly for this reason. It has a week view on one page and a facing page for notes. 

Every week I ask myself:

  1. Tinana: what will I do to stay alive and strengthen my physical body?
  2. Whānau: what will I do to nurture relationships with loved ones?
  3. Hinengaro: what will I do to learn something new and stay psychologically stimulated?
  4. Wairua: what will I do to reconnect with my purpose, faith and soul?

Then I review all four and think about the natural connections between all four. I make sure I have something time bound and scheduled in my diary. 

Here’s an example:

  1. Live: 2 gym sessions with my trainer, dentist, walk in nature up Kaukau, stretch once throughout every working day
  2. Love: date night with my husband, phone a friend, ask family to join Kaukau walk
  3. Learn: finish the book I’m reading, finish this blog!
  4. Legacy: express gratitude freely, intentional time in nature. 

Some weeks it’s harder to think of something practical for each need. It’s probably more important to look holistically at the longer term trends and impacts. I’ve been doing this most Monday mornings since 2012, that’s a whole decade! I’ve definitely written “return to yoga” more than a few times! 

Have a go at doing this for yourself first thing Monday morning. It’s much nicer than starting your working week with emails!

Ngā mihi, Rod


Covey, S. R., Merrill, R., & Merrill, R. R. (1995). First Things First. Simon and Shuster.

Durie, M. (1998). Whaiora: Māori Health Development (2nd edition) OUP.