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25 June 2018


Issue 4 - July 2018

This Healthy Policies Update is brought to you by the Healthy Policies Team at Toi Te Ora Public Health (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 provides information about the latest evidence, data and tools, and local and national innovative case studies.

This update is available in both e-copy and hardcopy. To subscribe to the e-update, please click here or to request a hardcopy please email

Please circulate this update and subscription invitation to your colleagues and any relevant stakeholders.

In this update:

- Council Say Yes to Removing Sugary Drinks
- Public Spaces in Need of More Water Fountains
- Mass Gatherings - Plan Ahead for When Things go Wrong
- Local Councils Set the Bar with WorkWell Gold Accreditation
- On Yer Bike! Tauranga on Track to Become Cycle Friendly
- BOP District Health Board Walking the Talk
- Hot Off the Press - Health for All
- Mayoral Musings - Rotorua Leads the Way with Sustainable Society

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

Council Say Yes to Removing Sugary Drinks

A remit for all councils to consider the development of a sugary drinks policy, was passed by 61 per cent of council delegates at the 2017 Local Government New Zealand conference. Originally proposed by Hastings District Council, the move will see councils rethinking the availability of sugary drinks within council facilities, events, and workplaces as a way of modelling and encouraging healthy choices.

In New Zealand, we consume on average about 37 teaspoons of sugar per day in the food and drinks we consume. According to the World Health Organization nutritional guidelines, adults should ideally consume no more than about six teaspoons of sugar per day, and children no more than about three to four teaspoons per day. 

Sugary drinks, also known as sugar sweetened beverages or SSBs, can contain a surprising amount of sugar.  For example, a single 355ml can of fizzy drink may contain up to 9 teaspoons of sugar, and a 600ml bottle may contain 16-18 teaspoons of sugar. Consumption of sugary drinks contributes to the risk of obesity, diabetes and tooth decay in children and adults. Children who consume one sugary drink or more per day are 50% - 60% more likely to be overweight or obese than children who do not. 

Local government can play an influential role in reducing the availability of sugary drinks in both public places and within their workplace. Nelson City Council is leading the way with a Sugar Sweetened Beverages Policy already in place. Based on the principles of community role modelling and staff wellbeing, the policy aims to make healthy drink choices the easier choice.

The Toi Te Ora Healthy Policies team are available to support you take the next step in developing and adopting a sugary drink free policy. To discuss more, email or for more information visit our sugary drinks webpage.

Public Spaces in Need of More Water Fountains

Public playgrounds and reserves are environments which enable children to participate in active play. The playground environment should be conducive to promoting child health. In a recent study conducted by University of Otago, Wellington researchers used a simple survey tool to assess the presence, quality and operation of drinking fountains in public playgrounds. 

Across 15 local authority areas, only 11 working drinking fountains (20%) were found in 54 playgrounds. The study highlighted a strong need for the provision of drinking water in public places and procedures in place for the monitoring, maintenance, repair, and replacement of drinking fountains.

How well do you think our region would score?
Toi Te Ora is keen to work with Councils to develop a stocktake to find out how well-equipped playgrounds and reserves are in our region with drinking fountains and features which promote and protect health, and to assist with the prioritisation of maintenance and upgrades of playgrounds and reserves. 

To discuss more please contact the Healthy Policies team at  

Reference: Thomson & Wilson (August 2017). Assessing public outdoor drinking fountain prevalence and quality: Using outdoor field observation in playgrounds. University of Otago: Wellington

Mass Gatherings - Plan Ahead for When Things go Wrong

Even the most organised events may experience a disaster which can overwhelm local health, accommodation, and transport services and their ability to provide an adequate response. This was a challenge that tested Toi Te Ora last summer. What do you consider a mass gathering? We think of them as a pre-planned event held at a specific location(s) for a specific period of time that may strain existing resources. Some mass gatherings may only last a few hours, whereas others may be one-day events or extend over a period of days or weeks. Examples are conferences, festivals, concerts, sporting events and religious gatherings.

Mass gatherings are not defined by their size or the number of people (although this has an impact on the associated risks) because each community has a different capacity to manage crowds of people for different periods of time.

Toi Te Ora works with Councils to ensure mass gatherings happen without illness or injury to participants, spectators, event staff, volunteers and residents. Reducing the public health risks and ensuring people’s safety requires thorough planning, coordination and communication. Our role is to encourage Councils and event organisers to prepare for mass gatherings by considering what might happen, how to know when it happens and what to do when it happens. We also assist with the development of contingency plans.

For example, think about the following:

  • What would happen if dozens of people experience stomach cramps and vomiting during a multiday event? 

  • What would happen if event first-aid services can’t cope? 

  • What would happen if first-aid staff send unwell people to the emergency department or event participants start presenting to local medical practices or pharmacies? 

  • What would happen if temperatures were to rise to the high 30s - would there be enough water to keep people hydrated or enough shade from the sun? 

  • What would happen if the event ends and unwell or injured people aren’t fit to travel?  Visitors may not have alternative accommodation and may not be sick enough to be admitted to hospital or be well enough to travel home. This problem may be compounded by accommodation and transport services being already in high demand. 

Toi Te Ora can also support Councils to maximise the health of those attending mass gatherings by providing support around other matters such as smokefree, water only events, healthy food options, and reducing alcohol related harm. Our website has lots of information and advice on these topics.

For more information visit and

Local Councils Set the Bar with WorkWell Gold Accreditation

Bay of Plenty Regional Council (below left) and Rotorua Lakes Council (below right) are the first councils in New Zealand to achieve WorkWell Gold Standard Accreditation. WorkWell is a free workplace wellbeing initiative which supports workplaces to ‘work better through wellbeing’ by providing step by step support and mentoring, easy to use resources, workshops, networking opportunities and recognition through accreditation.










Gold is the highest level of achievement in WorkWell and demonstrates that wellbeing is embedded within the organisation. Rotorua Lakes Council has implemented a range of initiatives to make the healthy choice the easy choice for their staff. This has included introducing a smokefree policy, supporting active transport, and reviewing food available in their vending machines and the cafeteria.

Toi Te Ora encourages other councils to get involved in WorkWell to support the wellbeing of staff, for more information see

On Yer Bike! Tauranga on Track to Become Cycle Friendly

Tauranga is set to become a more cycle friendly city in future with a new network of physically separate cycle paths being built. A range of local agencies and cycle groups have applauded Tauranga City Council for accelerating the implementation of the Tauranga Cycle Plan by agreeing to fund $20m over the next three years. This equates to a $9.8m contribution from Council and a $10.2m contribution from New Zealand Transport Agency.

The Tauranga Cycle Plan, recently adopted by Tauranga City Council, will make the city safer and easier for people to ride bikes.  The plan identifies how Tauranga City Council intends to build safe, connected cycleways and give people more travel options in Tauranga. The priority focus is on enabling more people to travel to work and school by bike, promoting wellbeing and sustainability, while also helping to reduce traffic congestion.

This is great news in light of recent findings by Otago University (Wellington). The “Health consequences of transport patterns in New Zealand’s largest cities” study found that if Tauranga achieved similar levels of walking, cycling and public transport as Wellington, there could be around 50 fewer premature deaths per year (which is about four times larger than the effect of preventing all road injury deaths in Tauranga). 

Toi Te Ora contributed to a number of workshops arranged by Tauranga City Council to inform the Tauranga Cycle Plan. Information about the local population health status and research showing the overall positive impacts of cycling for transport on health was provided, and then incorporated into the Plan’s evidence base. Toi Te Ora also raised awareness of the many links between transport and health through a presentation to the Tauranga Transport Committee. 

In a great example of community engagement, over 1500 people shared their views on cycling behaviour, facilities, routes and habits all of which informed the Plan. This also included an opportunity for people to record their place-based comments on a map of Tauranga. This rich source of user information will allow some smaller ‘quick wins’ for Tauranga City Council to pursue at the same time as some larger projects, helping to build momentum and support for cycling by the community.  

Bay Of Plenty District Health Board Walking the Talk

While advocating to local councils to implement a more sustainable approach to transport, such as enabling more people to walk, cycle and use public transport, the Bay of Plenty District Health Board (BOPDHB) is demonstrating its own commitment through developing their own travel plan.The travel plan will look at travel habits across both the Tauranga and Whakatāne hospital sites.

It will incorporate staff and contractor travel to and from work sites, as well as visitor travel to district health board facilities, including those attending outpatient appointments.

Information is being gathered about factors that influence people’s choice of transport, challenges they face, their journeys, and their parking and public transport experiences. BOPDHB will then use this information to explore sustainable travel alternatives and innovative options to create a travel plan that supports the health of our people and our environment.

Hot off the Press

Public health is about both people and nature.
Read the new report by Medical Officer of Health, Dr Neil de Wet, Biophilic Public Health: Re-imagining Public Health for the 21st Century’, available on the Toi Te Ora website.


Mayoral Musings - Mayor Steve Chadwick, Rotorua Lakes Council 

Rotorua Leads the Way with Sustainable Society

Rotorua is an extraordinary place to live for many reasons, but maybe the thing that is most unique about this place is our environment.  The history of Rotorua has been defined by our geothermal landscape, lakes and forests, and today the economic and social stability of our community is dependent on these special natural resources.

In 2014, in collaboration with the community, Rotorua Lakes Council developed the 2030 Vision as a tool to drive our community’s opportunity, enterprise and diversity while supporting a legacy of sustainability.

When the opportunity arose for Rotorua to become the first city in New Zealand to join the United Nations Global Compact Cities Programme, we saw that this fitted very much with our kaupapa to create a sustainable place; recognising the special attributes of our district.

The programme is a worldwide initiative aimed at creating sustainable societies.  It focuses on collaboration between all levels of government, business, and the community to create sustainable societies where economic, environmental, political and cultural issues are integrated. Rotorua became a signatory to the Cities Program in May 2015 and started working towards being a Leading City Participant.  Our council team used the Programme’s ‘City Scan’ tool to assess a range of attributes contributing to sustainability issues for our district.  These findings were then used to engage with our communities and develop our Sustainable Living Strategy - Toitū te oranga o Rotorua.

We are using the United Nations Global Compact principles to develop initiatives to address some of these challenges, and have also developed a Rotorua model depicted as a tree with interdependent branches for People, the Spiritual World, the Natural Environment, the Built Environment and the Economy.  The model is underpinned by the action themes: leadership, collaboration, and innovation and change management.

Some important sustainable innovations and relationships have developed out of these themes.  The ground breaking Te Arawa Partnership and the formation of the Te Tatau o Te Arawa Board for instance is an example of the action theme ‘leadership’ as it represents a significant step by local government towards meeting Treaty of Waitangi obligations.

Our Rotorua Local Food Network is an example of ‘collaboration’. This was an initiative of one the focus groups who developed the Sustainable Living Strategy. This collaboration between council and two community health related local organisations has seen the development of Kai Rotorua, an incorporated trust that supports other community food initiatives, e.g. kumara planting. Examples of innovation and change management include the development of Cyways linking our suburbs to the city centre, which is changing public perception and behaviour; the Te Arawa Lakes Trust partnership between iwi, Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Rotorua Lakes Council, which is tasked with improving the water quality of our lakes.

In Rotorua we are on the way, but we have a long way to go.  Our next steps include encouraging other New Zealand councils to join the programme and progress our newest environmental project which is to restore a lakeside geothermal ecosystem and protect and enhance this habitat for significant native bird life and vegetation.

The Sustainable Development Goals are based around economic and environmental sustainability which directly and indirectly have positive influences on public health.  The initiatives above outlined by Rotorua Lakes Council align with Toi Te Ora’s approach to creating a healthy community. 

Toi Te Ora have advocated to, and worked with Rotorua Lakes Council on several of these initiatives including creating equity, encouraging active lifestyles, supporting the availability of healthy food, and protecting the health of the environment. 

For more information on how Toi Te Ora can support your council please email


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Last modified: 06 Mar 2018
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