Māori Health Unit: Baking as Manaakitanga

Mark is the community liaison for the Māori Health Unit at the Hutt Hospital in Wellington. This unit supports whānau, the community and the health workforce, and works to improve outcomes across Māori health within the region. It facilitates equitable access to health services, builds and fosters connections within Māori communities, and ensures the needs of Māori whānau are being met within the hospital and throughout their health care journey. 

GB Eli delivering to the Māori Health Unit

In te ao Māori, manaakitanga is a deeply rooted concept. It revolves around the notion of extending aroha to others through shows of kindness, respect and generosity - lifting others' mana. Mark notes that it is “culturally…fitting to bring some food to a hui, whether in someone’s house or another location”, with the provision of food recognised as “a form of manaakitanga”. The baking provided by Good Bitches Baking manifests the te ao Māori principle of manaakitanga.  

When Mark and his team are talking about challenging issues with whānau, it can sometimes be “like opening a can of worms” and puts people in a state of anxiety. The baking is used to “bring us back to a place known as noa” (the ordinary or what is normal in your life) with the familiar display of manaakitanga acting to reassure and return whānau to a more relaxed state.

Mark says that many times unwell people have come to him elevated, depressed or anxious and as soon as he gives them a coffee and a bit of cake they settle down, and are able to relax and better articulate their issues. According to Mark, there’s always an awesome response to the baking delivered by GBB and, occasionally, even “tears of gratitude”.