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Community and Public Health in South Canterbury (Timaru)

The South Canterbury region covers the area between the Rangitata and Waitaki rivers. It includes the Timaru, Waimate and Mackenzie Districts.

The region’s population of more than 61,500 is mostly Pakeha. However it is becoming more culturally diverse with 7 percent Maori, 2.5 percent Asian and 1.1 percent Pacific people.

Many people in the region are aged over 65 years (20.4 percent). Also nearly 1 in 3 people in South Canterbury live in rural areas. This is nearly twice the level as for the rest of New Zealand!

Local Community and Public Health work aligns to the South Canterbury DHB’s (SCDHB) strategic priorities. Key focus areas for the work of the Timaru-based staff are:

  • healthy lifestyles;
  • child and adolescent health; and
  • reducing inequalities.

Health Promotion Activities in South Canterbury

WAVE (Well-being and Vitality in Education) is a major public health initiative in South Canterbury. This programme of intersectoral activities aims to create and support healthier environments for local children and young people. WAVE is unique to South Canterbury as it supports and enhances activities across the education sector – ranging from Early Childhood Centres to tertiary providers.

Community and Public Health also works with the South Canterbury DHB to support good oral health. The South Canterbury Child Nutrition and Oral Health Promoter works with the community to create environments that promote good oral health from an early age. This work includes:

  • Supporting WAVE Early Childhood Centres to promote oral health; and
  • Co-ordinating the roll-out of Te Hā o Aoraki (toothbrushing programme).

Other public health activities in South Canterbury

Health Protection Officers provide assistance on environmental health issues and infectious diseases. They are also involved in biosecurity monitoring at the Port of Timaru, inspections and advice for Early Childhood Centres, and drinking water assessments.

The Timaru office also has a Community Health Information Centre, providing a range of health education resources from the Ministry of Health and other providers.

COVID-19 vaccinations in South Canterbury

Updated 21st June 2022

South Canterbury DHB is running a number of COVID-19 vaccination clinics – including a mobile clinic.

93.5 percent of the eligible population in South Canterbury (12 years and over) have been double vaccinated.ly one dose. 73.9 percent of those over 16 years have now had their booster dose.



HealthInfo South Canterbury/ Aoraki.

Page last updated: 22/06/2022

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