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Whanake mai te mauri ora: Think piece – an expanded wellbeing framework and urban science data tool for integrated wellbeing governance.

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Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities, ,

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This think piece contributes to the discourse on urban governance and sustainability, offering a nuanced exploration of how indigenous knowledge systems, specifically Māori, can inform and enrich urban planning and policy in the face of global ecological crises.

By framing mauri ora (the vitality and wellbeing of life as a network) as a foundational principle, the research underlines the potential for a more integrated, responsive approach to urban analysis and action. The authors critically examine current governance models and propose an expanded wellbeing framework that prioritises holistic, all-of-life wellbeing measures over traditional, often reductionist, economic indicators. Notably, the think piece situates Aotearoa New Zealand at the forefront of wellbeing governance, citing the country’s 2019 wellbeing budget as a landmark initiative that seeks to integrate diverse capitals—human, social, environmental, and financial—into its policy framework. This initiative, endorsed by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the World Economic Forum, illustrates the practical application of the paper’s theoretical propositions and underscores the global relevance of indigenous perspectives in addressing contemporary urban and ecological challenges. Furthermore, the think piece’s emphasis on governance as a multi-layered process involving policy coordination, decision-making, and service delivery provides a comprehensive understanding of how wellbeing frameworks can be operationalised within national and local government contexts. The inclusion of Māori concepts such as whakapapa (genealogical narratives that acknowledge a multi-species lineage and the interconnectedness of all life) enriches the discussion, highlighting the depth and breadth of indigenous ontologies and their relevance to global sustainability efforts.

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