Sponsored Data

The Sponsored Data initiative allows the public to access key health sector websites via mobile phone without incurring data use charges.

For some New Zealanders, the cost of mobile data can be a barrier to accessing essential health and wellbeing information and digital health services. Those who cannot access information and services are often those with the highest needs.

Sponsored Data (also known as zero-rated data) removes this barrier by providing free access to key health sector websites for anyone using the Spark, Skinny, Vodafone, 2degrees, Slingshot or Orcon mobile networks. All mobile data charges for content hosted on these websites are automatically charged back to the Ministry of Health.

This ensures Kiwis won’t incur mobile data charges when they need essential information about COVID-19, health information and resources, or access to eligible GP portals. The initiative is currently funded to operate until the end of June 2022.

How do I access a sponsored website?

If your mobile phone is connected to the Spark, Skinny, Vodafone, 2degrees, Slingshot or Orcon networks, all you need to do is make sure your mobile data is turned on before you enter the address of the sponsored website into the web browser on your mobile device. 

Sponsored data is available both for pre-pay users and those on monthly plans. However, it is not available if your device is set to global roaming, if you are using a mobile network outside of New Zealand, or if your mobile plan is with Warehouse Mobile, CallPlus, Slingshot, Compass, Black + White, Orcon, M2 or any other provider. The Ministry is looking at opportunities to expand the number of telecommunications providers.

What data usage is sponsored?

Most content on a Sponsored Data website is free to access from your mobile device if you are connected to the Spark, Skinny, Vodafone or 2degrees networks. However, any externally hosted content available through the website will incur data charges according to your usual terms and conditions.  

All websites included within the Sponsored Data initiative have reviewed their content to minimise the amount of externally hosted content, and to make it clear if clicking a link will take you to another website. For any external content other than video content, this will typically translate to a few cents of usage per visit.

This means you can browse sponsored websites to access core health-related information free of charge, but any YouTube videos or other external content on the website will count as data usage.

Which websites have sponsored data?

The focus of the Sponsored Data initiative is on websites that provide key health information, support your mental health and wellbeing, or allow you to access digital health services.

The Ministry of Health will continue to identify websites that align with health priorities and meet the technical requirements for the initiative.

The following websites have been included within the initiative as at 1 September 2021:

Website Description
https://covid19.health.nz Ministry of Health website providing clear advice for people with COVID-19 and their contacts.
www.covid19.govt.nz Government website that brings together everything New Zealanders need to know about COVID-19 and how the government is responding.
www.health.govt.nz Ministry of Health website with a wide range of information to help New Zealanders manage their health
www.healthnavigator.org.nz A digital front door for accessing information about health topics, medicines, healthy living and health services.
www.booksonprescription.co.nz A programme to increase access to high quality health information.
www.depression.org.nz Information and resources to help New Zealanders recognise and understand depression and anxiety.
www.thelowdown.co.nz Information and resources to help young New Zealanders recognise and understand depression or anxiety.
www.safegambling.org.nz Support and information for New Zealanders who have a gambling problem or are concerned about someone else’s gambling.
www.managemyhealth.co.nz Portal for accessing digital health services.
www.health365.co.nz Portal for accessing digital health services.
www.allright.org.nz Information and resources to help New Zealanders manage their mental health.
www.myexperience.health.nz Health Quality and Safety Commission New Zealand site that provides information and resources to New Zealanders.
www.plunket.org.nz Plunket New Zealand site that provides advice and support for the health and wellbeing of tamariki under-five and their whānau.
www.quitstrong.nz For people who are looking to quit smoking and those who support them.
www.smallsteps.org.nz Small Steps are digital tools, developed by Te Hiringa Hauora in partnership with Clearhead. The Small Steps website is a place where people of Aotearoa can take small steps on their journey to improve wellbeing. Whether you’re here to maintain wellness, find relief, or get help for yourself, friends or whānau, we’re here with you, for you - he waka eke noa.
www.justathought.co.nz Just a Thought offers evidence-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) online and is designed for people with mild-to-moderate symptoms of anxiety and depression. CBT teaches people how to control their emotions, thoughts and behaviour to improve their mental health.

Karawhiua is a unifying campaign for whānau, hapū, iwi, and Māori communities to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Karawhiua is led by Te Puni Kōkiri (Ministry for Māori Development), co-delivered by Te Hiringa Hauora (Health Promotion Agency) and supported by the Ministry of Health and the Unite Against COVID-19 teams.

Will any other websites be included?

The Ministry of Health is working closely with a number of health-related websites with support from Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees to broaden the Sponsored Data initiative so even more key health and wellbeing information and services can be accessed without mobile data charges.

This page will be updated as further websites are added to the Sponsored Data initiative.

How do I get my website included?

The Sponsored Data Initiative has several phases:

Phase-1: Pilot (completed)

The pilot phase, which concluded in November 2019, was used to work with industry partners to verify that the technical solution employed for sponsored data was robust. This phase was also used to engage with health providers and consumers to evaluate the initiative. The pilot concluded that there were clear benefits and that the initiative should be further pursued.  Check out the project review report for the pilot: Sponsored Data Pilot: Project review.

Phase-2: Limited Release – COVID-19 Focus (current)

This phase which commenced in early 2020, has a specific emphasis on adding additional COVID-19 related websites. During this phase, technical, operational and financial processes are being refined. There is some limited opportunity during this phase for a limited number of new websites to be added where funding permits.

Phase-3: Extended Release (from 1st July 2021)

In mid-2021, a review of the initiative was completed, and funding for the program was confirmed up to 30th June 2022.

Registration of Interest

We encourage organisations to complete the Registration of Interest as the first step in the process. Interested parties should complete Appendix 1: Registration of Interest (Word) from the Information Pack. Completed forms should be sent to [email protected]

Full Applications

Full applications should complete Appendix 2: Application for Sponsored Data (Word) from the Information Pack. Completed forms should be sent to [email protected]

Download the Information Pack

Sponsored Data Initiative Information Pack (Word, 3 MB)

What websites are suitable?

To be suitable for inclusion within the Sponsored Data initiative, a website should:

  1. provide health-related information and
  2. be for the Ministry of Health or funded or contracted activity or
  3. be directly related to services provided in the public health sector and
  4. meet all technical requirements

The initiative will give priority to websites who meet one or more of the following (in order of importance):

  1. provide information on COVID-19
  2. be targeted at Māori and priority population groups including Pacific, disabled, elderly, and people living in low socio-economic areas
  3. enable increased engagement in the health sector to the benefit of the individual
  4. relate to mental health


During Phase-2, the program will not be able to include:

  • Sites hosted on global cloud providers (e.g. Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud) are excluded as often the provider will allocate dynamic or semi-dynamic IP addresses. If  you site has a fixed IP address we are happy to discuss inclusion in the programme with you
  • Video consultations – these generally have high data usage, so cannot be included within the current budget constraints. There is some work underway to quantify the 'real world' data usage of various video platforms
  • Sites that primarly deliver commercial services with no to minimal free health content

Do you have any questions?

Interested parties should email [email protected]

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