Wai māori


Healthy Families Hutt Valley is working to promote wai māori and water as a way of building physical, cultural and environmental hauora (wellbeing). We have two interrelated goals for our wai and water mahi, increasing access to drinking water and promoting the value of wai and water.

Why is this important?

  • When we drink water, we’re not drinking sugary drinks
  • Two out of 10 children in the Hutt Valley had fizzy drink three or more times per week
  • Sugary drinks are the leading source of sugar for children and the second biggest source for adults
  • Sugary drinks contribute to obesity, poor oral health, Type-2 Diabetes and other preventable chronic disease
  • In 2018/19, 385 children in the Hutt Valley had dental treatment under general anaesthetic, costing approximately $1million per year
  • Wai māori plays an important role in our wellbeing through our environment, tikanga and whakapapa

How we’re increasing access to water

Community hydration stations – We have been working with local government to make it easier for people to Go the H2O in our communities. The mahi we have helped influence includes:

  • Seven high profile water fountains being installed in community spaces in Stokes Valley, Taita, Naenae, Wainuiomata, Fraser Park, Petone and Moera, funded by Hutt City Council
  • A yearly budget being committed to increase the number of water fountains in parks, gardens and sportsgrounds
  • The community has mobilised to increase the demand for more water fountains, resulting in Council’s Community Panels being approached to fund additional water fountains in places of significance for those communities

Portable hydration stations – The Go the H2O movement has gathered so much momentum that the demand for portable hydration stations has meant local business have stepped in to provide extra capacity:

  • Local business owner Bulk Water Transport has partnered with Meet PAT to provide three hydration stations that can be used for events
  • The extra capacity means that Hutt City Council’s station is able to focus on high priority community and Council events without impacting the wider momentum

You can play a role in improving our community’s access to water by ordering a portable hydration station.

Player of the Day – This initiative rewards our juniors with free pool passes rather than the burger vouchers given out previously. To be eligible for pool passes, sports organisations have to demonstrate their pro-water kaupapa and promote water as their drink of choice. The impact of Player of the Day to date includes:

  • Six Councils providing access to 22 pools which reflects $100,000 value in free pool passes
  • 69 clubs and seven regional sports associations across 12 sports codes actively promoting water as the drink of choice
  • 21,000 less burger vouchers in the hands of our young people
  • 30,000 new free opportunities to be active at the pools

Read more about our Player of the Day initiative.

What can you do?


Imagine if there was no demand for sugary drinks from our young people because water is the normal and desired drink of choice.

How we’re increasing the value of wai māori & water

Increasing the value of Wai Māori and water – Having easy access to water is just the first step, we need to build the value of wai and take action to make water more desirable to drink and ensure it is treated with the care and respect it deserves as a natural taonga that brings hauora. By changing how we think about and value wai, we can start to create systems change that supports wellbeing while reducing harm to our environment.
Value proposition of Waiora
Value proposition of WaioraWe worked with the Wellington Branch of the New Zealand Dental Association (NZDA Wellington) and our young people in Taita to create a pro-water mural. NZDA Wellington sponsored the creation of the mural which is situated near the water fountain in Taita. 

The artwork from the mural was adapted for use in other community settings including the water stations at Te Matatini festival 2019. 

Through the Poly Odyssey event, a Pasifika articulation of the value of water has been created and validated by those involved. The kupu is “Vai Ola” which means “Water is life”.

We’re continuing to explore ways that we can work with young people to build our understanding of how they value wai and water and how we can make water the drink of choice.

What can you do?


Imagine if we all treated wai with the care and respect it deserves as a natural taonga that brings hauora for our whole community.

Want to help?

Share your insights around the value of wai and water.