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Whenua ki te whenua advance care planning guide for whānau launched

ACP info for consumers Advance care planning
12 August 2021

The Health Quality & Safety Commission is proud to launch Whenua ki te whenua: A taonga for your whānau, a new advance care planning guide designed using kaupapa Māori processes.  

An advance care plan is a way for people to think about, talk about and share what matters to them now in case someone needs to speak for them in the future.

Whenua ki te whenua is available in English and te reo Māori. It was co-designed with a Māori advisory group and  is a resource to help all New Zealanders think and talk through their advance care plans.  It encourages people to look at what is important to them, their values and beliefs, and consider practical decisions should they become unwell or unable to speak for themselves. It also provides resources and examples of others people’s approaches to advance care planning.

Hātepe | The process of creation

Whenua ki te whenua was developed with aroha and wairua by the Commission’s advance care planning Māori advisory group. A wānanga was held at Kōkiri Marae in Lower Hutt, to explore with whānau Māori and hauora staff how to best start the kōrero around advance care planning.

Vanessa Eldridge (Ngāti Kahungunu and Rongomaiwahine) gathered input and wrote the text for Whenua ki te whenua. The Hive creative agency worked with artist and designer Len Hetet (Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Apa) to capture that aroha in the design of the resource. This included the development of a tohu (pattern), whakatauākī and the kuaka bird imagery. 

Talking about the journey of life

‘E hono ana tātau ki te whenua mai i te matihe o te ora tuatahi tae noa ki te whakamutunga. E kawea ana te wairua i roto i te puku o te hau ki te okiokinga o ngā tīpuna.’

‘We are connected to the land from the first breath of life to the last.
Our spirit is carried within the belly of the wind to the resting place of the ancestors.’

Len Hetet

The whakatauākī created by Len Hetet resonates throughout the design and content of the document.

‘This proverb is about knowing who you are and where you are from ‒ whakapapa [identity]. It draws on the caring, nurturing and upbringing of a loved one from birth to death, and the important role that family, friends and carers play,’ Len said. 

The tohu design is based on the pito (umbilical chord) and the traditional Māori practice of burying it as a way of connecting a newborn baby to the ancestral lands.

‘Through this tikanga [Māori custom] the link is made with Papatūānuku [Earth mother] and the role that both whenua, the land, and the pito play in a spiritual sense,’ he said.

The tohu represents the pito of life that connects us to the land and the spiritual ascent to the resting place of our ancestors. This is also reflected in the use of the kuaka [godwit], which is said to accompany the spirits of the departed back to Hawaiki.

‘For me it is talking about their journey of life,’ Len said. 

‘Our whānau felt heard’

A mock-up of the guide was shared via advance care planning facilitators throughout the country with community health workers, consumers and whānau for feedback. The guide was also reviewed by Health Literacy NZ.

The response was positive from all consumers, with many (especially Pacific peoples) commenting that the resource resonated with them.

‘It has a sense of freedom,’ one respondent said.

‘Our whānau felt heard,’ said another. 

Where to get Whenua ki te whenua

'Physical copies of Whenua ki te whenua are available free of charge and can be ordered in te reo Māori and English by emailing

Or you can download PDF versions: Advance care planning tools and information (