Arihia Latham is a Facilitator, Writer and Rongoā Māori health practitioner. She also works with Enviroschools.

Who or what did you want to be when you grew up?

An actor, artist, doctor, naturopath or vet - herein lies my constant dance between the arts and science

What is your professional background?

I went straight from high school in 1998 to study naturopathy, completing a health science degree with my final research on the holistic approach to Māori health. I then worked as a naturopath and brought up children for many years. Ten years ago I was asked to get involved with some sustainability events - one of them for Enviroschools based on Rongoā and native plant workshops for children. Over the years I started working more in that space and did some more training in facilitation. Having both of these avenues in my work gives me the chance to work in really diverse ways around our own and the planet’s wellbeing. Writing is my creative avenue at this point in time and I write for different events and publications as often as possible.

When do you feel the most creative or inspired?

Weirdly it is when I am so busy with not so creative things. It’s like my creative need pushes harder than ever and I start scribbling poems on my phone while putting a baby to sleep or cooking dinner or between meetings at work.

When are you happiest?

Surrounded by my favourite people at the beach.

What’s the best stress relief advice you’ve ever been given?

‘The world isn’t going to fall apart if you take some time off’

‘Get off your phone’

‘Take off your shoes/bra’

‘Go to the beach or forest and LIE DOWN’

What is your most treasured possession?

They aren’t my possessions but I did help make them. My three children are by far the things I treasure most in the world. Hands down, throw myself in front of a bus for em, no question.

What is the most important thing life has taught you thus far?

I’m not the only one steering this ship. I’m wearing the captain's hat but there is an ocean of unpredictability and surprise beneath me. It’s taught me to plan and dream but to not get too attached to the outcome, to think on my feet and to haul myself from the rocks at times and re navigate my life.

What is your number one business tip for surviving (and thriving) in your industry?

Have a way to fund your desire to help the world. It’s a tough balance, doing good things and getting by. For me it is about being in contract work as well as my own business. It’s about ensuring I get paid for the many cool things that come my way, which means I can do some favours and be generous with my time and energy too.

What is your big project or goal for 2019?

My goal is to inject some spark into life this year. I have done a lot of maintaining and sustaining having a baby two years ago. It‘s time to get my book a publisher, apply for some residencies and travel to see what other great things are happening in both the art and science that make me tick.

Who or what is inspiring you at the moment?

Wāhine toa. There are some phenomenal women in my life dealing with huge obstacles and still managing to create important work and represent big ideas / organisations and raise beautiful families. These women are my idols.

What do you continually ask yourself?

What does my heart/ gut say?

What is already successful here?

How can we celebrate that?

Who do you collaborate with best?

People that have the same mix of big vision and practical action as me. People that are more on time and more realistic than me. People that love me for my fluid timing and big dreams.

Who has challenged you to be better than you once were?

My partner and family. They are really good at being both my biggest fan club and my biggest reality checkers. They call the bullshit and then give me a cuddle. The best combination.

How does courage manifest in your work?

Public speaking is something that I never get over. It exists in literally every role I work in so I draw on courage to trust I have a voice worth listening to, and something important to say.

When has mentorship played a role in your life?

It’s a huge part of feeling in my rightful place. I had incredible tohunga and teachers in my early years as a health practitioner. My mother has been a huge mentor to me in how to have a family and follow your dreams. My father has always written me poetry and through that mentored me in how to write about my place in the world. I am also so lucky to have an incredible whaea who I view as my mentor in my life now. She is like an anchor and someone that I look to before sharing or stepping forward to share things o te ao Māori. I feel like it is something that our society doesn’t place enough value on anymore, and many of us end up forging on blindly as a result.

What’s one thing do you think would improve gender equality in New Zealand?

One thing, that’s hard! I think it is about changing old paradigms across the generations. It’s about where we place value. Ideally we are valuing all of the work we do- with family, holding the mental and emotional load in the workplace and the home. I think the pay gap has so much to do with where people put value in their lives and society. We need to value our child rearers, our health care practitioners, educators, indigenous knowledge keepers, artists and cleaners. Because without them our top earners couldn’t survive.