Atua Matua

The Atua Matua Māori Health Framework, developed by Dr Ihirangi Heke, offers environmentally-based Māori health concepts, guiding Māori towards an ancestral framework for hauora. It strives to enhance Māori health through meaningful interpretations of Māori knowledge.

What is Atua Matua?

Atua Matua is dedicated to mātauranga Māori (traditional Māori knowledge), where health and physical activity naturally follow as an incidental outcome. Our goal is to acknowledge the intrinsic bond between Māori and the taiao (natural world), emphasising traditional Māori knowledge through 140 Atua (environmental deities), 20 tipua (mythological beings), and 40 kaitiaki (animal guardians).

Ngā Atua embody a form of science that values the environment’s role in continuing whakapapa and preserving important ancestral connections. Atua Matua leads a return to mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge), strengthening whakapapa relationships and resulting wisdom, moving beyond mere knowledge to enlightenment. Health outcomes are a natural byproduct of this approach.

An Adaptable Framework

The aim of the Atua Matua Māori Health Framework is to enable each iwi to tailor the framework to their unique knowledge base, environment, and interpretation. This allows for the appropriate incorporation and interpretation of tribal-specific information.


View the Atua Matua Health Framework

What are the goals?

• Connecting to whakapapa of Atua, Kaitiaki, Tipua through the modality of movement
• Engaging in mātauranga of whetu, wai, whenua
• Exploring whanau, hapū and iwi centric whakapapa to create or support contemporary oranga solutions


Dr Ihirangi Heke (Waikato/Tainui) has been working to develop the Atua Matua Framework to provide an alternative to the current Māori health frameworks using a strength-based, culturally appropriate system drawing on atuatanga (environmentally based information), kaitiakitanga (indigenous role models) and tipua (esoteric knowledge).

The Atua Matua approach is an attempt to build on previous Māori health models such as;

Where the Atua Matua approach differs from previous models is its primary focus on Māori environmental knowledge with an important, though incidental, focus on health and physical activity.



Mātakitaki mai for an insight into the whakapapa of different Atua and the connection to contemporary physical activity.



Learn More

Contact us at info@toitangata.co.nz for more information


Latest Atua Matua News

  • The Atua Matua Wānanga took place in Waitara in early November hosted by Ihirangi Heke. Approximately 30 people were in attendance from local communit...

  • By Te Rua Munro My project for the six-week internship at Toi Tangata was to research and apply the Atua Matua framework in an everyday setting. I bas...

  • Our latest Atua Matua wānanga was a one-day event held at He Waka Tapu in Otautahi (Christchurch). Whānau were introduced to the Atua Matua Framework ...