Healthy Families NZ

Healthy Families New Zealand is a new initiative that aims to improve people’s health where they live, learn, work and play in order to prevent chronic disease.

What is Healthy Families NZ?

Healthy Families NZ is a large-scale initiative that brings community leadership together in a united effort for better health.

It aims to improve people’s health where they live, learn, work and play, in order to prevent chronic disease.

Healthy Families NZ is the Government’s flagship prevention platform – a key part of the Government’s wider approach to helping New Zealanders live healthy, active lives.

Healthy Families NZ is challenging communities to think differently about the underlying causes of poor health, and to make changes – in our schools, workplaces, sports clubs, marae and other key community settings – that will help people make healthier choices.

It aims to make good health easier and more accessible for people, by creating many health promoting environments, where people live, learn, work and play.

Led by the Ministry of Health, the initiative will focus on ten locations in New Zealand in the first instance. It has the potential to impact the lives of over a million New Zealanders.

In each location, a skilled prevention workforce will work with local leaders to create healthy change.

The Government has allocated $40 million over four years to support Healthy Families NZ.

Why do we need Healthy Families NZ?

The rising tide of preventable chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers threatens our quality of life.

With rising rates of these diseases comes increasing health, social and economic impacts on families, communities and the health system.

Obesity or being overweight is a key factor driving this trend. New Zealand is now the third most obese nation in the OECD and rates appear to be rising. Since 2006 obesity in New Zealand has increased from 27 per cent of the population, to 31 per cent.

Worryingly, one in three New Zealand children are obese or overweight, and more than a third are inactive.

Obesity and chronic disease are global challenges – and globally, health leaders are finding that the causes are complex and there is no single solution.

To permanently slow the growth of obesity and chronic disease, we need to support families and communities to eat well, be physically active, be smoke-free and only drink alcohol in moderation.

A growing body of evidence is calling for a comprehensive and coordinated approach to prevention that is sustained over the longer-term.

Healthy Families NZ is about thinking bigger, driving innovation and supporting good health in the places where we spend our time.

It is a move away from disconnected, small-scale and time-limited projects and programmes, towards a whole-of-community approach that makes changes to the systems that influence the health and wellbeing of individuals, families and communities – systems like workplaces, the education system, and community spaces.

Who is involved in Healthy Families NZ?

Healthy Families NZ is being designed and implemented in 10 locations across the country.

These locations are: the Far North, Waitakere, Manukau, Manurewa-Papakura, Rotorua, East Cape, Whanganui, Lower Hutt, Spreydon-Heathcote and Invercargill.

A range of locally-based organisations have been selected to lead Healthy Families NZ in their communities – including Iwi organisations, Local Government Authorities, Pacific Primary Healthcare Organisations, and Regional Sports Trusts.

These organisations are responsible for bringing together partnerships of key organisations and individuals who can influence transformational change in their communities.

A skilled prevention team is also being established in each site to coordinate action and enable leadership that will drive the necessary changes to support good health.

Flowchart: The Healthy families NZ Community

How were the Healthy Families NZ communities selected?

The 10 Healthy Families NZ communities come from areas with higher-than-average rates of preventable chronic diseases (such as diabetes), higher-than-average rates of risk factors for these diseases (such as smoking), and/or high levels of deprivation.

The 10 communities are geographically spread and are a mixture of urban and rural areas, so the Healthy Families NZ programme will be able to provide valuable evidence on what works for a diverse range of communities. 

How will it work?

The Healthy Families NZ teams will work collaboratively with local leaders and organisations to identify, design and implement changes to help people make healthier choices and live healthier lives.

This will involve working with early childhood education, schools, workplaces, food outlets, sports clubs, marae, businesses, places of worship, local governments, health professionals and more to create healthier environments for all.

Healthy Families NZ builds on existing action underway in the community to create an integrated, community-wide “prevention system” for good health.

Because Healthy Families NZ is about locally driven solutions to local needs, the kinds of initiatives delivered in each location will be different.

Implementation of Healthy Families NZ

The following locally-based providers have been selected through a competitive tender process to lead the implementation of Healthy Families NZ in their communities.

  • Healthy Families Far North: Te Runanga o Te Rarawa
  • Healthy Families Waitakere: Sport Waitakere
  • Healthy Families Manukau: Tāmaki Healthy Families Alliance (Auckland Council in partnership with Alliance Health Plus and Ngā Mana Whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau)
  • Healthy Families Manurewa-Papakura: Tāmaki Healthy Families Alliance (Auckland Council in partnership with Alliance Health Plus and Ngā Mana Whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau)
  • Healthy Families Rotorua: Te Arawa Whānau Ora (in joint partnership with Kowhai Health Associates)
  • Healthy Families East Cape: Te Aitanga a Hauiti Hauora
  • Healthy Families Whanganui: Te Oranganui
  • Healthy Families Lower Hutt: Hutt City Council
  • Healthy Families Spreydon-Heathcote: Sport Canterbury
  • Healthy Families Invercargill: Sport Southland
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