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Nature as therapy is the focus of a new guide – Department of Conservation

Today, a new free guide to help improve well-being by connecting with nature for therapy is available in Tairāwhiti Gisborne.

The Department of Conservation (DOC), well-being sector partners, and iwi collaborated to create Ways to Wellness: He Ara Taiao ki te Ora Tairāwhiti.

DOC Tairāwhiti Operations Manager Matt Tong says the guide has a nature therapy focus, encouraging people to spend time in nature for their mental and physical well-being, healing, and recovery.

“We’re thrilled to release the guide in time for the summer as the days get longer and the whenua is drying out, giving people more opportunity to explore our beautiful region and connect with te taiao (nature),” says Matt.

“Similar to how a doctor recommends physical activity as a therapy for many conditions, this guide suggests nature as therapy. Not only are there the many benefits of physical activity while connecting with te taiao, there is also evidence of the positive impact on mental wellbeing, recovery time, and other factors in our overall well-being.”

The guide features five short walks close to the city, as well as information on where to loan a ViMo (all-terrain wheelchair) for free, how to get involved in volunteering, and nature-focused activities for families. For those wanting to go on their own wairua (spiritual) journey, ideas for how to get started are also in the guide.

Sports Gisborne Tairāwhiti, Ngā Manu Taupua Manager Kelly Nelson says getting outdoors supports overall well-being in many ways.

“Not only are our local walking tracks a place for movement, but they are also great spaces to connect with te taiao for play and taking a break from our busy lives.”

Tairāwhiti Community Voice Co-ordinator Tracy Bacon, representing social services, is pleased to hear of the great incentive in our region.

“With cost a barrier to many, this allows all to participate. We will utilise this as part of the support to our community, enhancing the wellness of many.”

With summer approaching, people can start their ways to wellness journey by picking up or downloading a copy of the guide.

The guide will be distributed by doctors, mental health advocates, disability sector staff, and partner organisations. It is also available from the Department of Conservation, Tairawhiti Environment Centre, Sports Gisborne Tairawhiti, Gisborne Volunteer Centre, and online at www.doc.govt.nz.


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