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Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand Runanga Whakapiki Ake i te Hauora o Aotearoa
Diet, Family and child, HP, News, Policy

mid section view of a man sitting on a bench in a park --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis


In an article in Public Health Monitor on 7 February, Prof Boyd Swinburn* took a look at the Australian initiative that has informed the Government’s proposed Healthy Families NZ initiative. His conclusion was that it could work, as long as the initiative is culturally-centred and backed with government policy and regulation.


HPF welcomes the Government’s proposed health promotion approach to obesity.  Like Prof Swinburn, we believe it will be essential to back the initiative with policy, regulation and the close involvement of the Māori and Pacific communities.


The initiative has been proposed by the Government to address obesity in New Zealand.  Modelled on Australia’s Healthy Together Victoria (HTV) programme, Health Families NZ  is expected to take a large-scale, community-based health promotion approach.  Little more is known about the New Zealand initiative at this stage, but health promoters and public health professionals anticipate it eagerly … with some words of advice for the government.


Health Promotion Forum (HPF) agrees.  “We have some great models to refer to in New Zealand,” says the Forum’s Executive Director Sione Tu’itahi. “Healthy Together Victoria is a wonderful initiative and will provide another dimension to the work that has already taken place here.”  Sione and his team believe the following will be essential to the success of the initiative:


  • Involve our Māori and Pacific communities.  Marry the Healthy Families NZ initiative with the successful Whanau Ora approach already running in Aotearoa New Zealand.  The success of Whanau Ora is based on self-determination.  Founded on the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, this model provides a template for success that translates across health promotion programmes for this country.


  • Revisit the Healthy Eating, Healthy Action programme (HEHA) to identify existing resources, experience and knowledge avoid ‘reinventing the wheel’.


  • Take a ‘top-down, bottom-up’ approach.  Community-based health promotion (‘bottom up’) needs support with policy and the regulation (‘top down’) of industries that impact on health, such as the food and leisure industries.

*Boyd Swinburn is Professor of Population Nutrition and Global Health, University of Auckland and Co-Director, WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention, Deakin University.



Jo Lawrence-King