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23 August 2016


Issue 1 - September 2016


This Healthy Policies Update is brought to you by the Healthy Policies Team at Toi Te Ora – Public Health Service (Toi Te Ora). This bi-annual update showcases the support available to council planners, advisors and policy makers, who are helping create healthy communities across the Bay of Plenty and Lakes districts where people live, learn, work and play. It will provide information about the latest evidence, data and tools, and also local and national innovative case studies.

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In this update:

Who is Toi Te Ora - Public Health Service

Toi Te Ora is one of 12 public health units funded by the Ministry of Health and is the public health unit for the Bay of Plenty and Lakes District Health Boards. Toi Te Ora’s purpose is to improve and protect the health of the population with a focus on reducing inequalities in health.

Toi Te Ora’s key role is to plan and deliver services that promote, protect and improve population health, prevent ill health and minimise the risk of disease and injury through population based interventions. Toi Te Ora places an emphasis on improving the health of Maori, children (including maternal health), and young people. Toi Te Ora has experienced staff working in a range of public health roles including health improvement, health protection, research and evaluation, policy and strategy development, administration and communications. These teams are supported by a Management Team which includes three Medical Officers of Health.

What does the Healthy Policies Team do?

The Healthy Policies Team consists of Health Improvements Advisors whose role is to consider the impact local government planning and policy-making has on population health. The team works in collaboration with other stakeholders such as community groups, local coalitions and agency groups, to support and promote local government policy making and activities that will positively impact health.

Day to day tasks include planning, formative research, attending forums and coalitions, monitoring news articles, developing and delivering presentations, and writing submissions. Each Advisor is responsible for a Council(s) and a specific public health area. This ensures the most effective coverage of the region and population health issues. 

The wider Health Improvement Team consists of Health Improvement Advisors whose work focuses on improving the health and wellbeing of workplaces (WorkWell), schools (Health Promoting Schools), early childhood education services (Building Blocks for Under 5s) and marae/hapu (Hapu Hauora). Our engagement with numerous programmes and initiatives, physical activity and nutrition networks, smokefree coalitions and the national workplaces programme all support this. 

 Health In All Policies - Partnering for Wellbeing

You may have noticed the Bay of Plenty District Health Board (BOPDHB) Executive and Board have been proactively engaging with local authorities. This has included presentations to SmartGrowth, the associated combined Tangata Whenua Forum and the Joint Committee of the Eastern Bay Councils. Face-to-face meetings with Mayors, Councillors and Chief Executives have also begun.

This is part of a new ‘Health in All Policies’ approach BOPDHB has adopted, and Lakes District Health Board (Lakes DHB) has committed to. It aims to strengthen relations between the health and local government sector locally with the long term view that stronger partnerships will facilitate public policies across sectors.

This approach systematically takes into account the health implications of decisions, seeks synergies, and aims to avoid harmful health impacts.

In line with the World Health Organization, we consider ‘health’ as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.

Health begins long before illness, where we live, learn, work and play.
A healthy community benefits us all. Our greatest public health challenges; chronic diseases, health inequalities, climate change, and spiralling health care costs, are highly complex and often linked by determinants of health such as transportation, housing, education, access to healthy food and economic opportunities.

This YouTube video from the Wellesley Institute unpacks what the determinants of health are, their interconnections, how they impact our health, and what we can do to address them.

The Link between Public Health and Local Government

Public health is a collective process for achieving a healthy population by acting on the determinants of health. Local government is one of the most important and powerful influences on the health and wellbeing of communities and populations It is therefore important that we work together to make a difference. Local government responsibility in this process is recognised in the Health Act 1956 and the Local Government Act 2002, as well as various other Acts and Regulations.

Key Public Health Concept: The Social Determinants of Health illustrate that health is everyone’s business.


For example, the efficiency of the local economy will affect employment, which affects income, which affects the quality of housing and the ability to afford healthy food which affects the health and wellbeing of a family. Or, the way cities and neighbourhoods are designed affects how convenient it is for people to walk or cycle, to participate in active recreation, or to use public transport.

So, how can Toi Te Ora support your local policies and contribute to building a healthy population?

  • Toi Te Ora employs staff with public health expertise and experience in evidence based practice.

  • Toi Te Ora is experienced in working with a range of issues. We understand the challenge of balancing individual versus community/population perspectives.

Council staff have political, local government and urban planning expertise; together we can build on each other’s capacity and expertise to create a healthy community.

Toi Te Ora and Local Government - Collaborating to Ensure Enduring Health and Wellbeing for All


Swapping Highways for Cy-Ways

Toi Te Ora supports projects that promote active transport because regular physical activity is a key part of achieving and maintaining good physical and mental health. 

Commuting by bike or by active transport (such as by bus and walking) is an effective way to fit activity into a busy lifestyle. The benefits of reducing car trips also mean less congestion, safer roads, better air quality and fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

Rotorua Lakes Council has identified the health and environmental benefits of cycling and has recently invested in a number of projects which aim to help Rotorua residents get on their bikes.

Such projects include:

  • Revitalisation of the inner city with the construction of the Green Corridor specifically for non-motorised transport which links key parks with the city centre.

  • Introducing bike racks on buses so that residents can mix their modes of travel in and out of the city (this is currently being trialled with buses on three routes).

  • Plans to construct over 27km of shared paths for cycling and walking (Cy-ways) linking the suburbs with the city centre.

How has Toi Te Ora’s Healthy Policies Team supported these projects?

  • Toi Te Ora actively participates in Rotorua Lakes Council’s Re-Cycle Rotorua/Behaviour Change Action Plan Steering Group which seeks to increase the number of Rotorua residents cycling rather than driving.

  • Toi Te Ora provided feedback via Rotorua Lakes Councils submission process, supporting urban design that gives priority to pedestrians and bikes over cars.

  • Toi Te Ora supported Rotorua Lakes Council's request to Bay of Plenty Regional Council for bike racks on buses in Rotorua.



Eastern Bay on Track

In the Eastern Bay of Plenty; Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Kawerau, Opotiki and Whakatane District Councils, have worked together to adopt the Eastern Bay of Plenty Cycle Trail Strategy.

This strategy provides the strategic framework for an Eastern Bay of Plenty Cycle Trail Network which links the wider Bay of Plenty’s major communities. It also provides a recreational opportunity which promotes physical activity, increases accessibility for active transport, and improves cycle safety.

Toi Te Ora will support the implementation of this strategy by promoting it and encouraging other community groups to support its development.



Housing and Health

In June, more than 80 people attended a ‘Housing and Health Seminar’ hosted in Rotorua by Toi Te Ora.

Challenges and solutions to housing quality issues were discussed and the creation of an ongoing collaborative Housing Forum was proposed.

More information on healthly homes is available from the Toi Te Ora Healthy Homes website page.  



Little Lungs Smokefree in Taupo

Toi Te Ora and the Lakes Auahi Kore/Smokefree Coalition are delighted that Taupo District Council will be placing smokefree signs at all playgrounds in the coming weeks.

The Coalition, committed to achieving Smokefree Aotearoa 2025, has commended Taupo District Council on making this decision for children, residents and visitors to the Taupo district.

“This is something we have been advocating for, and it’s great to see the Council is actively contributing to New Zealand’s Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 vision,” says Dana Thomson, Senior Health Improvement Advisor, Toi Te Ora.



Healthy, Sustainable Food for All

The World Health Organization defines food security as existing when "All people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life."

The main causes of food insecurity are heavily influenced by the conditions in which we live, learn, work and play. Therefore, Toi Te Ora is committed to working locally with authorities, community groups, organisations, local businesses and local iwi to make healthy food choices the most accessible and easiest choice across our region.

What are Councils Across the Bay of Plenty and Lakes Region Doing to Address Food Issues?

  • Food security is making its way on to the agenda of some high level council documents (e.g. Rotorua Sustainable Living Strategy).

  • A range of policy options are being used to support community food security (e.g. community garden/tree management policies).

  • Tauranga City and Western Bay of Plenty District Councils, in collaboration with Toi Te Ora and the Sustainable Business Network supported the Bay of Plenty Kai Hui last year on World Food Day.

  • Rotorua Lakes Council has partnered with Toi Te Ora and Healthy Families Rotorua supporting the Rotorua Local Food Network (image above taken at the July 2016 meeting).

  • Pride Whakatane, supported by Whakatane District Council, started a fruit tree initiative in 2014 to encourage the Whakatane district to have an abundance of locally grown fruit. To date, Pride Whakatane has distributed approximately 150 fruit trees to local maraes, schools, pre-schools, kohanga reo, community gardens, and council-owned public reserves.

  • Kawerau District Council is working with Kawerau Life Konnect to support the release of land and establishment of a local food forest.

  • Toi Te Ora’s Growing Healthy Communities Food Security Toolkit. A resource developed to guide local government through options for improving access to healthy food in their communities.



Council Achieving Through Wellbeing

WorkWell is a free, workplace wellbeing initiative which supports workplaces to ‘work better through wellbeing’.

Developed by Toi Te Ora, WorkWell can be adapted to any workplace. With step by step support and mentoring from an assigned WorkWell Advisor, easy to use resources, workshops, networking opportunities and recognition through accreditation, WorkWell can help create a happier, healthier and more productive workplace.

Rotorua Lakes Council is a great example of a Council leading the way with WorkWell. The WorkWell process helped the Rotorua Lakes Council identify a12 month action and evaluation plan which included:

  • upgrading their staff café to include healthier options

  • an onsite vegetable garden

  • standing desks, walking meetings and bikes available for staff

  • sponsoring teams in local sporting events

  • friendly signage encouraging the use of the stairs

  • staff trained as Quit Coaches to support smokers with their attempts to quit smoking

  • implementation of a smokefree policy across all of the Council sites.

For detailed information on how Rotorua Lakes Council has improved healthy food choices read their case study.

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Tauranga City Council are also engaged in the WorkWell programme. If your Council is interested please contact us on 0800 221 555 or email

For more information about Toi Te Ora - Public Health Service

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Last modified: 23 Sep 2016
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