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While we all have different ideas about love, it can ‘simply’ be described as a feeling or instinct that we attach words and behaviours to. These behaviours are either subjective, meaning they’re based on our personal preferences, or culturally relevant, meaning they’re influenced by our cultural beliefs and values.
Some people may say "aroha ahau ki a koe " or “I love you” to those they care about, while others might not say it at all. Instead, they may prefer to cook kai (meals) for other people, or do other things to show them how much they care. A person may love to receive gifts from their partner but may never actually buy their partner gifts in return. Instead, they’ll make sure to schedule quality time into their rā (day) or wiki (week) to spend with their partner.
How we give or show our aroha (love) to others, and how we expect to receive it, make up what is known as our love languages. Dr. Gary Chapman found that there are five love languages that people use to communicate love.
For these people, actions speak louder than words.
For example: making a meal for your loved one, running an errand for them etc.
For these people, receiving a heartfelt gift makes them feel most loved.
For example: receiving flowers or a handwritten letter.
For these people, they most appreciate their partner’s undivided attention.
For these people, they like hearing sweet words that make them feel good and tell them that they are loved.
For these people, they most appreciate physical intimacy.
For example: holding hands, cuddling on the couch or receiving a kiss of the forehead.
Quick think! Can you recognise some of the ways you already show love, or like to receive it?
Aroha (Love) should always be up for discussion, and kōrero (talking) about love languages can be a great starting point. Chatting to our partners about love languages can help strengthen our relationships with them. Knowing about our own, and their, love languages can help to avoid misunderstandings and ensure relationship satisfaction for all. We can also learn to appreciate one another’s differences, and understand why some things may not be working so well in our relationships.
Challenge yourself! Try ‘speaking’ to your partner in their preferred love language from time to time and see how they respond.