Environment, News

He taiao tōnui mō ngā reanga katoa – a flourishing environment for every generation.

The Environment Aotearoa 2022 report has changed the way it reports its findings, drawing more on mātauranga Māori and exploring the link between the environment and our wellbeing.

This unique approach, distinctive from other approaches around the world, interweaves different knowledge systems, presenting a richer and more relevant picture of the whole environment and the connections with people.

Some of the key findings of the recently released report were that pressures of land-use change, and intensification, pollution, invasive species, and climate change were having detrimental impacts on the environment. New Zealand’s rare ecosystems and indigenous species are under threat with 94 per cent of reptiles threatened with extinction or at risk of becoming extinct, and nearly three-quarters of terrestrial birds threatened or at risk.

The area of highly productive land that was unavailable for agriculture increased 54 per cent between 2002 and 2019. Our climate is warming, glaciers are melting, and sea-levels are rising. Air quality in Aotearoa is improving slowly at a majority of measurement sites, but in many places, pollution levels are above the new World Health Organisation (WHO) 2021 guidelines.

These changes to the environment were impacting our ‘wellbeing and our connection to te taiao’ states the report. ‘Our wellbeing is linked to a healthy environment’.

‘Bringing a Māori world view (te ao Māori) recognises the interconnectedness of all parts of the environment, including people, and speaks to something that connects us all to Aotearoa New Zealand.’

“Environment Aotearoa 2022 relates environment change to human wellbeing,” said Secretary for the Environment Vicky Robertson.

“The report brings together a wide range of information to give us a broad picture of the health of the environment. Wellbeing is linked to a healthy, functioning environment.”

Environmental indicator data underpinning the report comes from local and central government, crown and independent research institutes, industry associations, and in a small number of cases, international sources.

Ms Robertson said the report’s primary purpose is to provide New Zealanders with the evidence-based information they need to consider in any decisions about their environmental impacts and New Zealand’s future direction.

Forest & Bird Chief Executive, Kevin Hague said the report brings together a wide range of information to give us a broad picture of the health of the environment.

‘Wellbeing is linked to a healthy, functioning environment,” said Mr Hague. ‘This report shows that nature is helping us in many ways, but it’s clear that much more needs to be done to protect nature so that it can continue to support and protect us.

‘The previous reports [2018-2021] show that all environments – critical to New Zealanders’ wellbeing – are struggling with the impacts of human activity in our warming world. We rely on nature, yet it can only help us cope with the impacts of climate change and benefit our wellbeing if we take decisive action to restore and maintain its healthy state.” 

The report, produced every three years by the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ, draws on nearly 50 environmental indicators, including 11 updated specifically for the report. 

Meanwhile, the Government will be shortly releasing its implementation plan for Te Mana o te Taiao, the Government’s Biodiversity Strategy to protect and restore nature. 


Environment, News

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report shows that climate change is a grave and mounting threat to our wellbeing and a healthy planet, says Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC.

“This report is a dire warning about the consequences of inaction … Our actions today will shape how people adapt and nature responds to increasing climate risks.”

Scientists point out in the report that human-induced climate change is causing dangerous and widespread disruption in nature and affecting the lives of billions of people around the world, despite efforts to reduce the risks. And it’s the people and ecosystems least able to cope that are being hardest hit!

The report states however that there are options to adapt to a changing climate and provides new insights into nature’s potential not only to reduce climate risks but also to improve people’s lives.

“Healthy ecosystems are more resilient to climate change and provide life-critical services such as food and clean water,” said IPCC Working Group II Co-Chair Hans-Otto Pörtner. “By restoring degraded ecosystems and effectively and equitably conserving 30 to 50 per cent of Earth’s land, freshwater and ocean habitats, society can benefit from nature’s capacity to absorb and store carbon, and we can accelerate progress towards sustainable development, but adequate finance and political support are essential.”

Cities, the report adds, can also provide opportunities for climate action – green buildings, reliable supplies of clean water and renewable energy, and sustainable transport systems that connect urban and rural areas can all lead to a more inclusive, fairer society.”

“There is also increasing evidence of adaptation that has caused unintended consequences, for example destroying nature, putting peoples’ lives at risk or increasing greenhouse gas emissions. This can be avoided by involving everyone in planning, attention to equity and justice, and drawing on Indigenous and local knowledge.”


Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash


Environment, News

In part one of a special series in the Hauora newsletter, as COP26 comes to a close in Glasgow, Scotland, we look at repeated warnings and recent calls to action to combat climate change, including the São Paulo Declaration.

“Planetary health science convincingly demonstrates that the ongoing degradation of our planet’s natural systems is a clear and present danger to the health of all people everywhere,” says Sam Myers, director of the Planetary Health Alliance.


“The Covid-19 pandemic is a turning point within each of our lifetimes and must serve as a moment of transition for humanity. To protect human health and all of life on Earth, we will need to, and can, effect urgent, deep, structural changes in how we live.” 


The Principal Research Scientist in Environmental Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and lead author of The Lancet letter made the comment upon the launch in October of the latest call to action to save our planet — the São Paulo Declaration, which calls for a ‘fundamental shift in how we live on Earth’.

This shift which the Declaration calls the ‘Great Transition … will require rapid and deep structural changes across most dimensions of human activity’. The Declaration outlines what actions are necessary to achieve ‘a just transformation to a world that optimises the health and wellbeing of all people and the planet’.

Signed by more than 250 organisations around the world, including the Health Promotion Forum of NZ, the Declaration was launched in the build up to COP26 (Conference of the Parties) in Glasgow, Scotland from October 31 to November 14.


HPF’s Executive Director and Co-Chair of the IUHPE Global Working Group on Waiora Planetary Health and Human Wellbeing Sione Tu’itahi says the Declaration is a ‘global effort of the planetary health community, calling on all of humanity to collaborate and elevate its consciousness towards a more equitable and resilient post-pandemic world’.


With much of the world now being ravaged by extreme weather events caused by climate change; Floods, wildfires, heatwaves, drought, and cyclones leaving trails of disaster, killing hundreds, displacing millions, and causing damage worth billions, the world’s chances of survival are getting slimmer and slimmer! Poor and marginalised communities are often the worst affected by loss of lives and livelihoods.


‘Our planet is changing before our eyes from ocean depths to mountain tops,” warned UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres in his opening speech at COP26. “From melting glaciers to relentless, extreme weather events. Sea level rise is double the rate it was 30 years ago, oceans are hotter than ever, and getting warmer faster. Parts of the Amazon rainforest now emits more carbon than they absorb.”

In an unprecedented call to action in mid-September this year, 231 medical journals around the world came together to publish the same editorial, titled “Call for emergency action to limit global temperature increases, restore biodiversity, and protect health”.

Led by a group of chief editors from world-leading journals such as The Lancet, The BMJ and The New England Journal of Medicine, as well as the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the editorial stated: “The greatest threat to global ­public health is the continued failure of world leaders to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5℃ and to restore nature.”

The clarion call couldn’t be any clearer – ACT NOW, before it’s too late!


Year after year, the warning bells have been sounded! COPs have come and gone, conferences and summits have been held, commitments have been made and plans have been written. Yet as US President Joe Biden surmised at COP26, ‘… we’re still falling short. There’s no more time to hang back or sit on the fence or argue amongst ourselves’.


Scientists have been warning about the ‘clear link’ between natural disasters and climate change for years.


The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), established by the UN in 1989, has released numerous reports and warnings about the potential impacts of climate change and the response options.


Ominously its most recent report in August issued a “code red” for humanity.


The report predicts the average global temperature is likely to rise by more than 1.5°C within the next two decades, going over the limit settled in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.


Another call to action was sounded at the world health promotion conference co-hosted by HPF and the International Union for Health Promotion (IUHPE) in Rotorua in April 2019 where two legacy documents the ‘Waiora – Indigenous Peoples’ Statement for Planetary Health and Sustainable Development’and the  ‘Rotorua Statement WAIORA: Promoting Planetary Health and Sustainable Development for All’ were issued by participants.

The documents call on the global community to urgently act to promote planetary health and sustainable development for all, now and for the sake of future generations. The vital role of indigenous knowledge in helping to combat this crisis was highlighted in the Indigenous legacy document in which the health promotion community and the wider global community are called on ‘to make space for and privilege Indigenous peoples’ voices in this arena’.


Mr Tu’itahi who co-chaired the conference said: ‘Unity of thought and action is key. We must work together as one human family at the local and global level …  we will continue the dialogue at the IUHPE2022 Conference in Montreal, May 2022.”

It’s time to heed these warnings and calls to action! No more procrastinating!

As the Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Climate Action, Selwin Hart said in a recent interview on the UN website:We have a very narrow window of opportunity to prevent the worst impacts of climate change. Climate action is not something that can be delayed for 10, 20 or 30 years. We must take urgent and ambitious action now.”


Environment, News

“While we should continue to focus on addressing Covid-19 in Aotearoa New Zealand, we need to also continue addressing the health of the planet, the underlying cause of pandemics such as Covid-19,” says Sione Tu’itahi, HPF’s Executive Director.


Mr Tu’itahi made the comment after participating at the launch of the São Paulo Declaration on Planetary Health today.


The Health Promotion Forum of NZ along with more than 250 organisations from 47 countries representing more than 19 sectors across society is a signatory to the Declaration.


Launched by the Planetary Health Alliance and the University of São Paulo the Declaration was developed by the global planetary health community with support from the United Nations Development Programme.


The Declaration states that humans must make transformational shifts now in how we live in order to optimize the health and wellbeing of all people and the planet we depend on. It also guides people across society with suggested concrete actions that support a more just and regenerative post-pandemic world. 


“The Sao Paulo Declaration on Planetary Health is a global effort of the planetary health community, calling on all of humanity to collaborate and elevate its consciousness towards a more equitable and resilient post-pandemic world,” says Mr Tu’itahi.


“We made a similar call at the 2019 IUHPE World Conference on Health Promotion in Rotorua. Unity of thought and action is key. We must work together as one human family at the local and global level.(See the Legacy Documents from IUHPE2019)


“And we will continue the dialogue at the IUHPE2022 Conference in Montreal, May 2022,” adds Mr Tu’itahi.


“The urgency of this moment is hard to overstate,” says Sam Myers, director of the Planetary Health Alliance, principal research scientist in environmental health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and lead author of The Lancet letter.


“Planetary health science convincingly demonstrates that the ongoing degradation of our planet’s natural systems is a clear and present danger to the health of all people everywhere.”

According to the Lancet on our current trajectory, we can no longer safeguard human health and wellbeing. “The Covid-19 pandemic is a turning point within each of our lifetimes and must serve as a moment of transition for humanity. To protect human health and all of life on Earth, we will need to, and can, effect urgent, deep, structural changes in how we live. This great transition demands a rapid shift in how we produce and consume food, energy, and manufactured goods; requires rethinking the way we design and live in the world’s cities; and insists we heal our relationship with nature and to each other. Such a paradigm shift requires participation of every sector, every community, and every individual.”

What is planetary health?

Planetary health is a solutions-oriented, transdisciplinary field and social movement focused on analyzing and addressing the impacts of human disruptions to Earth’s natural systems on human health and all life on Earth. The field was initially launched with the release of the Rockefeller-Lancet Commission report “Safeguarding Human Health in the Anthropocene.

Subsequently, the Rockefeller Foundation, and then the Wellcome Trust, provided core support for the Planetary Health Alliance (PHA) to foster the field and community.

Click HERE for the full list of signatories and to add your voice.


Environment, News

HPF is encouraging you to join millions of people around the world by taking the Plastic Free July challenge and helping to rid our planet of plastic waste.

The reality of this crisis is confronting! According to the United Nations Environment Programme our planet is ‘drowning in plastic pollution … with 300 million tonnes of plastic waste a year, nearly equivalent to the weight of the entire human populationPlastic waste is now so ubiquitous in the natural environment that scientists have even suggested it could serve as a geological indicator of the Anthropocene era.”

Click here for more eye-opening stats and info!

Here in Aotearoa New Zealanders are tossing out an estimated 159 grams of plastic waste per person, said Environment Minister David Parker, making us some of the highest waste generators in the world.

Mr Parker recently announced that the NZ Government is committed to going plastic-free and will be phasing out problem-plastics and some single-use plastics by July 2025.

“We estimate this new policy will remove more than two billion single-use plastic items from our landfills or environment each year … We’re encouraging businesses and people to find reusable options.”

A recently published UN report has also highlighted that vulnerable communities disproportionately bear the brunt of environmental degradation caused by plastics pollution, and action is urgently needed to address the issue and restore access to human rights, health and wellbeing.

The report, entitled, Neglected: Environmental Justice Impacts of Plastic Pollution, showcases how environmental injustices are linked to plastic production, in areas such as deforestation for road building, the displacement of indigenous peoples to conduct oil drilling, as well as contamination of potable water by fracking operations to extract natural gas, in countries such as the United States and Sudan.


SO WHY WAIT! ACT NOW! Using this month as your plastic-free target will give you the impetus to begin your plastic-free journey, rather than putting it off for another time that may keep being postponed. 


Environment, News

Today on Earth Day (April 22) we urge you to take action to protect our precious planet and demonstrate our support for environmental protection.

With the global climate crisis worsening each year, today’s theme ‘Restore Our Earth’ is even more significant and it’s imperative that we act NOW!!!

As the Secretary General of the UN António Guterres recently warned: “Humanity is waging war on nature. This is suicidal. Nature always strikes back – and it is already doing so with growing force and fury.”

However, added Dr Guterres human action can help to solve it.

Human action is what Earth Day is all about – bringing millions of people from around the world together and giving an opportunity for all stakeholders to create awareness and work together on critical issues like global warming, pollution and the vanishing forest cover among others. Earth Day is one of the oldest and largest global movements when it comes to positive environmental change and is supported by 75,000 partners in over 190 countries.

HPF’s Executive Director, Sione Tu’itahi says health promoters have an integral role in this collaborative effort to fight the climate crisis.

“With evidence, ethics and social justice, health promoters – whether educators and policy analysts or Whanau Ora and community workers – they are making effective contributions to the wellbeing of the planet and humanity at all levels, from the local to the global,” says Mr Tu’itahi.

This year, amid the Covid-19 pandemic, a host of environmental issues are being prioritized. Click HERE to view some of the digital events that will take centre stage.


Environment, News, Pacific

A historic ruling based on a complaint filed by a Pacific Islander in New Zealand has opened the door to climate-change asylum claims.

The UN Human Rights Committee made the landmark ruling based on the case of Ioane Teitota from the island of Kiribati, which is threatened by rising sea levels.

The committee ruled that countries cannot deport people who have sought asylum due to climate-related threats.

Teitota who lodged the complaint in 2015 after being deported from New Zealand when his asylum application was denied argued his right to life had been violated, as rising sea levels and other destructive effects of climate change had made his homeland uninhabitable.  

He said he was forced to migrate from the island of Tarawa, to New Zealand, due to impacts such as a lack of freshwater due to saltwater intrusion, erosion of arable land, and associated violent land disputes which had resulted in numerous fatalities. 

Health Promotion Forum of NZ’s Pacific Strategist, Dr Viliami Puloka said HPF supported the ruling by the UN as a ‘human rights issue’.

Dr Puloka said most Pacific Islanders didn’t want to leave their homes or countries, but if “it had to go down to the wire,” and they were forced to leave because of the impacts of climate change, then the ruling would provide support to their claims for relocation.

Dr Colin Tukuitonga, former Director General of the Pacific Community agreed that for Pacific Islanders, or anyone else, relocating or moving within their own country or to other countries was a last resort

In his presentation at the 23rd IUHPE World Health Promotion Conference, co-hosted by the Health Promotion Forum of NZ in Rotorua, he said climate change was now the most important threat to Pacific lives and livelihoods and there was potential for an ‘ecological disaster”.

SPC, he said, had first-hand experience with the stress involved in relocating and in the last few years had been assisting the Fiji government to relocate villages up to higher ground as a result of the climate crisis.

“Relocating communities might sound simple, but relocating your village, leaving behind what you know is a big deal to the families …”

While the UN Committee determined that Teitota’s right to life had not been violated as sufficient protection measures had been implemented in Kiribati, UN member Yuval Shany said: “Nevertheless, this ruling sets forth new standards that could facilitate the success of future climate change-related asylum claims”. 

The Committee further clarified that people seeking asylum are not required to prove that they would face immediate harm, if deported back to their home countries. 

Their rationale was that because climate-related events can occur both suddenly – such as intense storms or flooding – or over time through slow-onset processes such as sea level rise and land degradation, either situation could spur people to seek safety elsewhere. 

Additionally, Committee members underlined that the international community must assist countries adversely affected by climate change. 

While the judgment is not binding, it does emphasise that countries have a legal responsibility to protect people whose lives are threatened by the climate crisis. 


Environment, News, Pacific

HPF’s Executive Director, Sione Tu’itahi joined a panel of speakers, who are passionate and committed to helping Pacific people combat climate change, at the Auckland District Health Board (ADHB) Pacific Week Symposium on Environment and Sustainability at Auckland Hospital yesterday. (Monday, October 7).

Mr Tu’itahi whose speech was entitled Moana Ola, Fonua Ola, Healthy People, Healthy Environment discussed how Pacific Indigenous knowledge could contribute to addressing the political, socio-economic and ecological determinants of our health and wellbeing.

He looked at the Pacific Conceptual Frameworks of Moana Ola and Fonua Ola, planetary wellbeing and indigenous knowledge and what we can do together to tackle the global challenges that humanity now faces.

Other speakers who are doing some amazing work for Pacific Island communities were:

  • Phil Somerville, EatLessPlastic, CEO shared his research, learnings and insights on plastic waste in the Pacific Ocean and environmental impact on Pacific communities.
  • Mary Curnow, Director Fundraising and Business Development, Volunteer Service Abroad who spoke on “Volunteers, Climate Change & Health: Building capacity across the Pacific”. 
  • Kevin Hague, CEO, Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand Inc. addressed “Hope in the Face of Calamity: charting a positive course through climate change and the 6th mass extinction”.

The ADHB’s sustainability work extends beyond the Auckland catchment working the Pacific Island health teams to help prepare for climate change for the vulnerable communities in the Pacific region.  Pacific Island nations account for emitting less than 1% of greenhouse gases but are among the most vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change, especially sea level rise. 


Environment, News

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report highlights the urgency of prioritizing timely, ambitious and coordinated action to address unprecedented and enduring changes in the ocean and cryosphere.

The Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, approved by the 195 IPCC member governments, reveals the benefits of ambitious and effective adaptation for sustainable development and, conversely, the escalating costs and risks of delayed action.

The ocean and the cryosphere – the frozen parts of the planet – play a critical role for life on Earth. A total of 670 million people in high mountain regions and 680 million people in low-lying coastal zones depend directly on these systems. Four million people live permanently in the Arctic region, and small island developing states are home to 65 million people.

Global warming has already reached 1°C above the pre-industrial level, due to past and current greenhouse gas emissions. There is overwhelming evidence that this is resulting in profound consequences for ecosystems and people. The ocean is warmer, more acidic and less productive. Melting glaciers and ice sheets are causing sea level rise, and coastal extreme events are becoming more severe

The report provides new evidence for the benefits of limiting global warming to the lowest possible level – in line with the goal that governments set themselves in the 2015 Paris Agreement. Urgently reducing greenhouse gas emissions limits the scale of ocean and cryosphere changes. Ecosystems and the livelihoods that depend on them can be preserved.

“The open sea, the Arctic, the Antarctic and the high mountains may seem far away to many people,” said Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC. “But we depend on them and are influenced by them directly and indirectly in many ways – for weather and climate, for food and water, for energy, trade, transport, recreation and tourism, for health and wellbeing, for culture and identity.”

Professor James Renwick, Victoria University of Wellington said over one billion people depended on glacier ice for their water supply, and those communities would be increasingly put at risk as the ice melts away.

“Tens of millions of people live in low-lying small island nations and millions more live very close to sea level. Unless we take urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, vast populations will be displaced by rising seas.

“Every 10cm of sea level rise triples the occurrence of coastal inundation. One metre of sea level rise would threaten cities and communities all over the world, including New Zealand. The economic costs would be measured in the tens of billions here in New Zealand, and in the trillions worldwide.”

Professor Christina Hulbe, School of Surveying, University of Otago said hanging over the technical details in the report were two broad messages.

“First, the climate change drumbeat isn’t in the distance, it’s here and it’s loud, and second, the processes and impacts are highly interconnected. This means a number of climate change consequences are locked in but it also means that some of the most serious outcomes can still be avoided and, no matter what, the time we have available to get ready for the inevitable changes depends on how hard we keep pushing the climate system.”

The urgency expressed in the report is reflected in the legacy documents released at the global health promotion conference in Rotorua last April. While each statement focuses on certain areas, they are primarily a call for action to secure planetary health and sustainable development now and for the sake of future generations.

View the documents by clicking here and here. HPF asks that these documents be supported by being used, endorsed and disseminated to co-workers, colleagues and networks.


Environment, News

This year we’re celebrating 50 years of Conservation Week (Te Wiki Tiaki Ao Tūroa), a time to not only get involved in activities at home or at the many events hosted across the country, but to reflect on the country’s wildlife which is still in crisis.

With more than 4000 of our native animals and plants threatened or at risk, it is imperative that we continue, way after the week ends on September 22, to celebrate nature and look at ways that we can best conserve it.

The week comes on the heels of the release of the two legacy documents from the World Health Promotion conference in Rotorua last April to leaders and organisations in the public health sector.

HPF’s Executive Director Sione Tu’itahi said the recent dissemination of these documents, which highlight the urgent need to protect the wellbeing of our planet and humanity, was timely in light of this week’s focus on conservation.

The Rotorua Statement. WAIORA: Promoting Planetary Health and Sustainable Development for All calls on the global community to urgently act to promote planetary health and sustainable development for all, now and for the sake of future generations. 

The Waiora – Indigenous Peoples’ Statement for Planetary Health and Sustainable Development is a call on the health promotion community and the wider global community to make space for and privilege Indigenous peoples’ voices and Indigenous knowledges in promoting planetary health and sustainable development for the benefit of all.

Te Wiki Tiaki Ao Tūroa was originally launched in 1969 by the New Zealand Scout Association, and taken over by the Department of Conservation when it was formed in 1987.


Community, Environment, Global, Uncategorized

HPF’s Executive Director Sione Tu’itahi talks to Hauora about the outcomes, goals and lasting impact of the global Health Promotion Forum conference in Rotorua from April 7-11, 2019

Last April the Health Promotion Forum co-hosted the 23rd International Union for Health Promotion and Education (IUHPE) World Conference on Health Promotion in Rotorua. With a timely theme of ‘Hauora: Promoting Planetary Health and Sustainable Development for All’, more than a 1000 delegates and organisations from 73 countries participated.

H: There has been very positive feedback about the conference. Are you happy with the results, and did you achieve the outcomes you set?

Sione Tu’itahui speaking at IUHPE2019

ST: Yes, I am happy to say we achieved our three major outcomes, and more. The knowledge that was exchanged was very relevant, crucial and very timely for the needs of health promotion, and the world today. Health promoters and other health workers, as well as those who work in sustainable development enhanced existing networks and formed new ones. And the legacy initiatives of two legacy statements, and initiating the process for a healthy city, were also achieved.

H: Let’s talk more about those outcomes in details. What is some of the relevant knowledge shared?

ST: Among other important features, at least three major areas emerged and moved closer together, offering comprehensive knowledge and practical tools for the delegates to take home and implement on addressing the health of the planet and its peoples. These were the social determinants of health with an equity and social justice approach, planetary health and ecological determinants with an eco-social approach and an inter-generational understanding and goal for health and wellbeing, and indigenous knowledge and health promotion with a clear philosophy and practice that humans are inseparable from the ecology. On another level, the spiritual dimension of wellbeing, and spiritual health promotion also came to the fore during the conference. It was great to see these major areas of health knowledge coming together, offering a profound understanding on planetary health, and relevant, practical tools.

What was significant was that the presenters in all these areas of knowledge were complementary in their addresses, presenting a balanced, and comprehensive big picture of where the health of the planet and its peoples are at, and the comprehensive set of strategies to address those challenges at all levels.

H: What else was significant about the knowledge shared at the conference?

ST: Two other significant contents of the conference were the leading contributions of Maori research, policy, practice and leadership to Indigenous health promotion, and how pronounced climate change and ecological challenges are in our Pacific region. In fact, we decided to host the conference here in order for our New Zealand knowledge and experience to be shared with the world, and for the world to understand our greater Pacific region and its challenges, as well as our collective effort to address those challenges. For example, 20 years after introducing Te Pae Mahutonga as a health promotion model for New Zealand, Sir Mason Durie presented a new model, Matariki, at the conference for Indigenous peoples. Tuhoe Nation Leader Tamati Kruger shared the challenging but progressive and resilient journey of his tribe from the ravages of colonisation to mana motu hake/autonomy today. Delegates were in awe at such profound knowledge and courageous, moral leadership.

H: You mentioned some legacy initiatives. What are they?

ST: There were three legacy initiatives: two legacy statements, and Rotorua to become a healthy city under the WHO (World Health Organization) scheme of the same name.  Led by two editorial teams, the conference delegates drafted and approved by acclamation the two statements on the final day. The first statement is the Rotorua Statement which summarises the important themes and knowledge that emerged from the conference, calling for action on those crucial areas for the health and wellbeing of the planet and its peoples. The second statement is the Waiora Indigenous Peoples Statement. It outlines the loss of Indigenous peoples under colonisation around the world, and calls for privileging indigenous knowledge as a right, and articulates how Indigenous health promotion can contribute to addressing the challenges on planetary health. On the healthy initiative, Rotorua’s mayor Steve Chadwick agreed to explore with us how Rotorua can become a ‘healthy city’ under the WHO’s scheme of the same name. Rotorua can be the model for other cities. All social, economic, cultural and ecological challenges, health included, are related, and cities are a manageable setting where these challenges can be addressed in a well-coordinated and effective way. The vision is for our cities to become healthy, liveable and sustainable.

H: So, it was not just a talkfest?

ST: No, certainly not. You can watch the videos of those keynote speakers on the IUHPE and HPF YouTube channels. Maori equity and social justice were articulated by the likes of Sir Michael Marmot and Fran Baum, indigenous health promotion was clearly embedded by the addresses by Sir Mason Durie, Tamati Kruger of Tuhoe Nation, Dame Anne Salmond, and Professor Anthony Capon. Professor Capon and Professor Trevor Hancock also highlighted planetary health, ecological determinants and the eco-social approach. 

H: What lessons have you learned as a result of hosting the conference?

ST: Quite a few. One is that our nation’s founding document, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, was very effective as a framework for negotiating the terms of the conference and for co-hosting it with the International Union for Health Promotion and Education. Using Te Tiriti enables us to work as equal partners, sharing our knowledge and experience, and achieving outcomes agreed on, such as the theme of the conference where we highlight Indigenous knowledge, having Te Reo Maori as one of the four languages of the conference.


Case Studies, Environment, Global

This Statement from Indigenous participants in the 23 rd IUHPE World Conference on Health Promotion (Rotorua, Aotearoa New Zealand) is a call on the health promotion community and the wider global community to make space for and privilege Indigenous peoples’ voices and Indigenous knowledges in promoting planetary health and sustainable development for the benefit of all. It should be read alongside the Rotorua Statement from all participants in this Conference.

Indigenous peoples are diverse and our worldviews, which have developed over millennia of human experience, are specific to peoples and place. However, there are fundamental commonalities in these worldviews that have provided the basis for Indigenous peoples’ movements that draw us together around our shared interests. Core features of Indigenous
worldviews are the interactive relationship between spiritual and material realms, intergenerational and collective orientations, that Mother Earth is a living being – a ‘person’ with whom we have special relationships that are a foundation for identity, and the interconnectedness and interdependence between all that exists, which locates humanity as part of Mother Earth’s ecosystems alongside our relations in the natural world.

Understanding our place in the natural world in relational ways leads us to consider how access to the natural environment shapes human health and wellbeing, the impacts of our activities on the environment, and our inalienable collective responsibilities of stewardship which will benefit future generations.

Within Indigenous worldviews our relationship with the natural world is characterised by reverence and values that include sustainability, guardianship and love. Planetary health is understood as the health and wellbeing of Mother Earth and of humanity as an inextricable part of natural ecosystems. It should also be noted that Indigenous languages are critical in articulating Indigenous worldviews as they
enable the most full and accurate expression of Indigenous conceptualisations, and should be protected.

The forces of colonisation, capitalism and globalisation have caused massive environmental degradation, climate change, loss of biodiversity and the devastation of Indigenous communities. Further, they have led to intellectual imperialism and the widespread subjugation and exclusion of Indigenous worldviews, bodies of knowledge and voices.

Prevailing Western and other worldviews promote individualism and anthropocentric perspectives that to human peril separate humanity from the natural world. This has encouraged human activity that accelerates the depletion of planetary resources, the destruction of ecosystems, pollution, climate change and increase in the risk of ecological collapse.

Environmental degradation impacts disproportionately on Indigenous peoples because of close relationships with the natural world and our already marginalised circumstances in nation states. The silencing of Indigenous voices and the subjugation of Indigenous bodies of knowledge has been detrimental to all, most evident in our global environmental crisis.

Indigenous health promotion (as opposed to the generic form of health promotion which has largely Western origins) emerged in response to Indigenous peoples’ needs to make space for our own ways of seeing the world and as a vehicle to realise our aspirations to sustain future generations who are healthy, proud and confident as Indigenous peoples. It is an Indigenous-led endeavour with origins that stretch back in time to customary systems to maintain health and wellbeing that emphasised social and ecological connections. At the same time, Indigenous health promotion is open to knowledge generated from within other worldviews where there is alignment. Indigenous health promotion can be understood as the process of increasing Indigenous peoples’ control over the determinants of health and strengthening our identities as Indigenous peoples.

Ecological collapse is the greatest threat to human health and survival globally. Health promotion (policy, research, education and practice) needs to change to effectively respond to the challenges of the Anthropocene and bring intergenerational health equity into its systems and frameworks. Engaging with indigenous worldviews and bodies of knowledge
provides opportunities to find solutions to this most pressing threat and ways forward to promote the health of Mother Earth and sustainable development.

We call on the health promotion community and the wider global community to make space for and privilege Indigenous peoples’ voices and Indigenous knowledge in taking action with us to promote the health of Mother Earth and sustainable development for the benefit of all.


Case Studies, Environment, Global

Rotorua Statement

This Statement represents the collective voice of the social movement members, researchers, practitioners and policymakers who participated in the 23rd IUHPE World Conference on Health Promotion, held in Rotorua, Aotearoa New Zealand in April 2019. It should be read alongside the Indigenous Peoples’ Statement for Planetary Health and Sustainable Development from this Conference.

The conference participants call on the global community to urgently act to promote planetary health and sustainable development for all, now and for the sake of future generations. Planetary health is the health of humanity and the natural systems of which we are part. 1 It builds on Indigenous peoples’ principles of holism and interconnectedness, strengthening public health and health promotion action on ecological and social determinants of health. It puts the wellbeing of people and the planet at the heart of decision-making, recognising that the economy, as a social construct, must be a supportive tool fit for this purpose in the 21 st century.

Waiora is an Indigenous concept of our host country, Aotearoa New Zealand, which expresses the interconnections between peoples’ health and the natural environment, and the imperative of sustainable development. 2 3 Waiora represents a call to work with Indigenous peoples to draw on Indigenous knowledge, and to share knowledge from our diverse cultural systems for the wellbeing of the planet and humanity. Sustainable development for all is a clear way to ensure environmental, social and health justice for the people of today and for future generations.

Urgent action is needed because mounting evidence tells us that the current
economic and social development paradigm of infinite growth and endless exploitation of limited natural resources is unjust and unsustainable, leading to inequities within and among countries and across generations.
In 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted the new development agenda
“Transforming our world: the 2030 agenda for sustainable development”. 4 The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) integrate economic, social and environmental development around the themes of people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership. In doing so, they provide an action plan for the global community.

They prioritise the fight against poverty and hunger while focusing on human rights for all, and the empowerment of women and girls as part of the push to achieve gender equality. The SDGs recognise that eradicating poverty and inequality, creating inclusive economic growth and preserving the planet are inextricably linked to each other and to population health. 5
Conference participants call for immediate action from the global community in four key areas.

  • Ensure health equity throughout the life course, within and among countries, and within and across generations. This requires:
    The development of all peoples as empowered lifelong learners and
    engaged contributors to individual health and the health of families,
    communities and the planet.
    Action and accountability to address the wide and enduring inequities
    experienced by Indigenous peoples, while ensuring the protection of
    cultural identity and customary ways of life.
    Tackling the structural factors that drive the inequitable distribution of power, money, and resources; improving daily living conditions especially of those most in need; and measuring and understanding the problem and assessing the impact of action as outlined by the Commission on Social Determinants of Health. 6 Prioritising intergenerational health equity in systems, frameworks and
    decision-making, as a central tenet of a planetary approach to health
  • Make all urban and other habitats inclusive, safe, resilient, sustainable and conducive to health and wellbeing for people and the planet. This requires: Renewing and strengthening our relationship with planetary ecosystems. Protection of the planet from degradation, including through sustainable production, management and consumption of natural resources so that the planet can support the needs of present and future generations. This requires taking, enabling and advocating for immediate action on climate change and the loss of biodiversity.
    Action to reduce disparities in the quality and quantity of resources
    available to communities as these disparities are at the root of inequities in health. Current threats will accentuate such disparities. These include threats to food and water supplies associated with climate change, depletion of both renewable and non-renewable resources, the degradation of the environment such as contamination of food chains and ecosystems, poor air quality and massive forced migrations.
    Greater cross-sectoral action to protect and improve the health of
    populations experiencing inequities, including those in the world’s fast- growing urban areas.
    Fostering of peaceful, just and inclusive societies which are free from fear, racism, violation and other violence.
    The realisation of the health co-benefits of sustainable ‘One Planet’ living.

Ensuring urban decision-makers apply a “health equity lens” to assess the
risks and opportunities posed by policies and programmes and measure
their effects. 7

  • Design and implement effective and fair climate change adaptation strategies.
    This includes:
    The development of new approaches to global, regional, national and local governance and stewardship that will equitably promote health and well- being and prevent and mitigate disastrous climate and environmental breakdown, particularly in Low and Middle-Income Countries.
    Repositioning Indigenous and traditional knowledge systems to be on an equal footing with science and other knowledge systems to promote health and well-being and prevent and mitigate disastrous climate change and environmental breakdown.
    Development of action-oriented policies and partnerships between health and other sectors to develop policies addressing health and climate.
  • Build collaborative, effective, accountable and inclusive governance, systems and processes at all levels to promote participation, peace, justice, respect of human rights and intergenerational health equity. This requires:
    Respect for and adherence to the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples as articulated in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
    Effective global governance free from the domination of economic considerations and commercial interests.
    The promotion of participatory democracy, coherent policy-making and regulation in the public interest and to restrict conflict of interest.

Participants at the 23rd IUHPE World Conference in Rotorua also confirm the critical role and relevant expertise of the health promotion community in promoting human health, planetary health and sustainable development, including implementing the SDGs. Participants urge the health promotion community to provide leadership across our one planet.


  1. Whitmee S, Haines A, Beyrer C, et al. Safeguarding human health in the Anthropocene epoch:
    report of The Rockefeller Foundation–Lancet Commission on planetary health. The Lancet
  2. Durie M. An Indigenous Model of Health Promotion. 18th World Conference on Health Promotion
    and Health Education. Melbourne, 2004.
  3. Durie M. An Indigenous model of health promotion. Health Promotion Journal of Australia
  4. UN General Assembly. Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
    New York: United Nations 2015
  5. World Health Organization. Health in 2015: from MDGs, millennium development goals to SDGs,
    sustainable development goals. Geneva: World Health Organization, 2015
  6. Marmot M, Friel S, Bell R, et al. Closing the gap in a generation: health equity through action on
    the social determinants of health. The Lancet 2008;372(9650):1661-69.
  7. World Health Organization. Health as the pulse of the new urban agenda: United Nations
    conference on housing and sustainable urban development, Quito, October 2016. Geneva:
    World Health Organization, 2016.



New Zealand is walking the talk in the battle to tackle climate change with 18 health organisations as well as 60 businesses committing to decisive action on the issue.

On July 6 in a historic meeting for climate change and health, members of the leading health professional organisations, including the Health Promotion Forum of NZ, met with the Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw, to add their support for a strong Zero Carbon Act. Attendees at the meeting of health organisations hosted by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons were united in their call for decisive action on climate change to protect and improve health and fairness for New Zealanders. “There is a strong consensus among health professionals that New Zealand needs a robust law to get to net zero greenhouse gas emissions,” said Dr Rhys Jones, co-convenor of OraTaiao, the NZ Climate & Health Council. “A Zero Carbon Act will need to set targets and action that are fast, fair, firm and founded on Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Three decades of sitting on our hands means we now need to face the reality that all sectors must play their part in responding to the climate crisis. We need to reach net zero for all our greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.” Sione Tui’tahi, HPF’s Executive Director who attended the meeting said it was encouraging to see members in the health sector working together for our collective wellbeing. The Zero Carbon Bill consultation ends on July 19. The move by the business community to take action has been praised as “strong” and “unprecedented” by local and global organisations. CEOs have formed the Climate Leaders Coalition, recognising the role that business can play in bringing about change and signing a joint statement, which commits their companies to action. By signing the CEO Climate Change Statement, each of the business leaders has committed to measuring and reporting their greenhouse gas emissions and working with suppliers to reduce emissions, with the aim of helping to keep global warming within 2C, as specified in the Paris Agreement. Convenor of the coalition, Z Energy CEO, Mike Bennetts said: “I knew that many businesses were making progress with their own company’s response to climate change but that still left a gap around what we could be doing more of together to increase the pace and scale of impact from our collective efforts. “So, it made sense to discuss those opportunities and commit to further action.” The new group includes the leaders of Z, Westpac, Ngai Tahu Holdings, Vector, Air New Zealand, Spark and NZ Post.

    Members of leading health organisations, including HPF, meeting with the Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw to add their support for a strong Zero Carbon Act.


Ramping up action to combat climate change is essential if we are to help our Pacific Island neighbours says the Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw. Mr Shaw made the comment after The Declaration for Ambition on climate change was signed by the High Ambition Coalition group of countries, including New Zealand, recently.  The declaration underscores the urgency for countries to enhance their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by 2020 in line with the Paris Agreement; put in place long-term strategies to reach net zero emissions; and secure the support and investment to ensure effective implementation. Mr Shaw says as the world works towards the next United Nations climate change conference in Poland later this year, it is important to join with other countries to push for effective climate action and implementation of the Paris Agreement. “This is about protecting a stable climate for future generations of people in New Zealand and around the world, and helping our Pacific neighbours avoid the potential impacts of climate change and rising seas,” Mr Shaw says. The Pacific Islands as a group may be the planet’s most vulnerable nations to the effects of climate change, with some facing possible obliteration. The effects on families and communities can be devastating. For most countries, a net zero target is widely seen as necessary to be consistent with promises made under the Paris climate treaty to limit global warming to well below 2C and ideally 1.5C, the level scientists agree is necessary to minimise climatic disruption and save low-lying island states. According to Climate Action Network (CAN) The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on 1.5C, due to be released in October, is likely to confirm that limiting warming to 1.5C is feasible, but hard to achieve. This makes it essential and urgent therefore for all countries to join these front-runners and step up to enhance their NDCs by 2020 states CAN. Countries that signed the declaration promised to “lead from the front” on climate action. They are Argentina, Britain, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Spain and Sweden. “We commit to exploring the possibilities for stepping up our own ambition, in light of the forthcoming IPCC Special Report on 1.5C, and in this context emphasise the importance of the Talanoa Dialogue at COP24,” the first line of the Declaration reads. The Talanoa Dialogue which was launched at the UN Climate Change Conference COP23 in Bonn in November 2017 and will run throughout 2018 is the Fijian presidency of the UN climate talks initiative to encourage countries and businesses to showcase their climate action. Health threats from climate changes include: worsening illness and injury from heat and other extreme weather, changing patterns of infection including food poisoning, loss of seafood and farming livelihoods, food price rises and mass migration from the Pacific. Those on low incomes, Māori, Pacific people, children and older people will be hit first and hardest, but nobody will be immune to the widespread health and social threats of unchecked climate change. Direct and indirect climate change impacts are already being seen here from warming oceans and sea level rise.   The north coast of the Tongatapu group, Tonga and the lagoons are low lying and vulnerable to sea-level rise. Here the effects of coastal erosion at Lifuka in the Ha’apai group are evident. (Photo: Tonga: LiDAR factsheet)          

January 2016:  Senior Health Promotion Strategist Karen Hicks contributed this post to the WHO’s This Week in Global Health  

Health Promotion: An Effective Approach to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

~Written by: Karen Hicks, Senior Health Promotion Strategist & Lecturer, New Zealand (Contact: karen_ahicks@hotmail.com)

In September 2015 the United Nations adopted seventeen sustainable development goals (SDGs) (Figure 1) as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; which aims to end poverty, fight inequality, injustice, and tackle climate change. These SDGs are acknowledged as going beyond the previous Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as they aim to address, ‘The root cause of poverty and a universal need for development that will work for all people’ (United Nations, 2015).     Figure 1. Sustainable Development Goals. Source: http://wfto.com/sites/default/files/field/image/2015-07-21-SDGs.png Each of the SDGs relate to health and wellbeing with aims, approaches and principles that are concomitant to the discipline of health promotion; a discipline that acknowledges the complexity of health and is based on the principles of human rights, equity and empowerment (Williams, 2011). Consequently, such principles imply that health promotion is an effective approach toward achieving the SDGs. This approach is supported by the global framework and described in “The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion” (WHO, 1986) (Figure 2) which identifies five key action areas: building healthy public policy, creating supportive environments, strengthening community actions, developing personal skills and reorientating health services through advocacy, enabling mediation for effective practice.  

Figure 2. The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion Logo. Source:http://www.who.int/healthpromotion/conferences/previous/en/hpr_logo.jpg   An example of a collaborative initiative that illustrates health promotion as defined in the Ottawa Charter is the International Network of Health Promoting Hospitals & Health Services (HPH). The initiative collaborates to reorient health care towards an active promotion of health, aiming to improve for patients, staff, and communities. Further detail on the approach can be accessed on the HPH website (http://www.hphnet.org). The principles and actions illustrated alongside the interdisciplinary approach of health promotion that empowers people and communities (Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand, 2014) and focuses on equity and the broader determinants of health (Davies 2013) is acknowledged by the World Health Organisation, “Health promotion programmes based on principles of engagement and empowerment offer real benefits. These include: creating better conditions for health, improving health literacy, supporting independent living and making the healthier choice the easier choice” (WHO 2013 p 16).  The value associated to the approach clarifies how health promotion can effectively contribute to achieving the seventeen SDGs where the SDGs can guide the delivery of effective health promotion to improve health, wellbeing and personal development throughout the global community.   References: Clinical Health Promotion Centre. The International Network of Health Promoting Hospitals & Services.  http://www.hphnet.org/ Accessed 22/1/2016. Bispebjerg University Hospital Denmark. Davies, J.K. 2013. Health Promotion: a Unique Discipline? Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand. Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand. 2014.http://www.hauora.co.nz/defining-health-promotion.html#sthash.5sStc8VF.dpuf. United Nations. 2015. http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment. Williams, C. 2011. Health promotion, human rights and equity. Keeping up to date. Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand. World Health Organisation. 1986. The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion. WHO. WHO (2013) Health 2020: a European policy framework and strategy for the 21st century Copenhagen, World Health Organisation   Read the blog at TWIGH       23 March 2016   Karen Hicks