With people under unprecedented stress due to the Covid-19 pandemic, entrepreneur and artist Paul Rangiwahia has developed “The Spring Clean” – a mental health resource designed to help people take charge of their own wellbeing and happiness. Renee Murphy explains.

In 2014 Paul Rangiwahia was bankrupt, both financially and emotionally. Fast forward seven years and he’s built a sustainable and profitable business as an artist, speaker, coach, and wellbeing advocate. Having recently reached $500,000 in retail sales of Paul’s wellbeing prints, the Paul Rangiwahia brand is proof that sometimes great business ideas are born out of adversity.

Paul Rangiwahia
Te Hauora W.O.F print by Paul Rangiwahia.

Speaking about his challenges has been key to both his mental health recovery and his business success. Now he’s urging others to speak about their own challenges in an effort to look after their wellbeing.

“One of the big challenges that we have around mental and emotional health in New Zealand is we’re not really good at talking about how we feel,” says Paul, “a lot of people are really struggling this year and we’ve all got stuff going on, just to varying degrees, so the important thing to note is that you are not alone and you are normal”.

Motivated by his vision to make his region of Taranaki “The Wellbeing Capital of New Zealand”, he’s developing a new resource alongside his current art works, journals and teaching guides, to get people talking. The Spring Clean is a simple, interactive tool you can use to do what Paul refers to as “a stocktake of your mind” and start a conversation about your mental wellbeing.

“It’s really helpful for people who have struggled to open up before,” says Paul. “The resource is able to communicate so much without someone necessarily saying a word and that’s a massive opportunity.”

While he’s not able to share images of his prototypes at this early stage, he says the concept is simple.

The user completes a card-based activity that helps them identify factors that are causing them mental stress. These include things like alcohol, relationship breakdown, money troubles, lack of social connection.

“It’s not about having the answers to the raft of things that are going on in people’s lives. The key is to get it out,” explains Paul.

Paul Rangiwahia
Wellbeing Journal – a guide to being awesome by Paul Rangiwahia.

He says once we’re aware, we can make a plan to work through our challenges and start a conversation about how we’re feeling with a support person, such as a counsellor, friend or family member.

While there’s a raft of digital wellbeing apps available, Paul believes keeping people off their phones is key to improving wellbeing. That’s why The Spring Clean is a tangible resource.

He came up with the initial concept five years ago but it was only during the last lockdown that he refined it enough to take it to production.

Paul has partnered with The Ministry Of Social Development, Schools and Businesses to pilot the resource which will be distributed to around one hundred groups. They’ll provide feedback so the resource can be tweaked before going to market.

While he’s acting local, he’s thinking global. The resource will initially be released in English and Te Reo Māori but Paul explains it can easily be translated into other languages and modified to suit any culture.

He’s keen to get it into the hands of as many people as possible and can see it being used by people at home, in workplaces and in schools. The ultimate goal is to sell millions of units worldwide.

“That will probably require some capital raising,” says Paul, “I’m hoping I can get into some type of dialogue with external parties about how to make this a success.”

The plan is to launch the product onto the market via his website early in 2022. A portion of each of the sales will go towards supporting mental health projects.

Story created in partnership with Venture Taranaki.

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