Public health aims to keep our population well, improve health, and prevent illness.

Health is influenced by a wide range of factors including our housing, income, diet, and access to health and other social services. An important part of public health work is working together with communities and health services to influence the many wider causes of good health or ill health in our population.

For most people public health work will influence their lives in many different ways every day. Examples include regulation of water supply, smokefree workplaces, bars and restaurants reduce our exposure to smoke; and vaccinations prevent the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19.

Who we are

We work with communities across the greater Wellington region, through Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand districts - Capital, Coast, Hutt Valley and Wairarapa.

We have a special focus on improving health of Māori, Pacific and those on low incomes, especially children within these families.

Much of the work in public health is behind the scenes ensuring a healthy and safe environment for our population, including writing submissions, influencing policy, enforcing health legislation, and working with other agencies to improve access to services and resources.

How we work

We work with our communities to make it a healthier, safer place to live. We promote good health, prevent disease, and improve the quality of life for our population. We have a particular focus on children, Māori and Pacific populations.

We work across a variety of settings and our work spans a number of public health topics. More in-depth information on the type of work we do can be found under each public health topic.

An example of some of our work includes:

In our environment:

  • Raising awareness of communicable diseases and following up outbreaks of disease, for example COVID-19, meningitis, tuberculosis and gastroenteritis.
  • Investigating air, water and other pollution hazards.
  • Working towards preventing unwanted diseases entering New Zealand by monitoring our local air and sea borders.
  • Assisting during emergencies and natural disasters by working with Civil Defence and Emergency Management.
  • Enforcing relevant health legislation.

In our community:

  • We work closely with a variety of agencies to reduce the risk and harm caused by alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.
  • We provide support to new migrants entering the country.
  • Promoting physical activity and healthy eating.
  • Working towards a Smokefree Aotearoa by 2025.
  • Public health nurses provide professional advice and support on child related problems and promote healthy living.
  • We offer immunisation in schools according to the national immunisation schedule.
  • We offer vision and hearing screening for pre-school and school age children.
  • Working in early childhood centres and kōhanga reo to promote safe environments and good health practices.
Last updated 17 April 2023.