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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
  • Providing one-on-one dietary and oral health advice to families of children at high risk for developing dental caries.

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.

Update on Timaru Odour Pilot

Environment Canterbury undertook a pilot project in February 2021 to gather odour information and data in the Washdyke and northern Timaru area. They have now analysed this data and are working with businesses to reduce the impact on residents of odour reaching beyond business boundaries.



HealthInfo South Canterbury/ Aoraki.

Page last updated: 05/09/2021

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