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Community and Public Health on the West Coast (Greymouth)

Nearly 33,000 people live in the Buller, Grey and Westland Districts – a 400 km long region between the Southern Alps and the Tasman Sea. This makes the West Coast one of the most sparsely populated regions in New Zealand. The remote nature of many small and isolated communities poses specific health challenges around sewage treatment and disposal, and potable water.

The natural beauty of the area attracts more than 1 million visitors a year, largely during the spring and summer months. This level of tourist activity carries some environmental risks for recreational water contamination and infectious diseases, especially in popular destinations such as Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers and Punakaiki. The predominantly young and transient population of tourists and those employed in the tourism industry creates concerns around safe sexual behaviours and responsible alcohol use.

Enabling wellbeing and equity of outcomes for everyone on the West Coast

The health promotion team supports improving and maintaining the health and wellbeing (hauora) of West Coasters by connecting communities and supporting the creation of healthy and sustainable environments (inlcuding early childhood education and schools). Current initiatives focus on:

  • mental wellbeing;
  • Māori health;
  • healthy eating;
  • physical activity;
  • healthy ageing and injury prevention;
  • supporting smoke-free environments; and
  • working alongside key stakeholders to reduce alcohol related harm.

Community and Public Health is a partner in Active West Coast – working with District Councils to improve and promote hauora on the West Coast. The Westland Recreation is open and well used by the community, and major developments are occurring in Buller and Westland as part of their new physical activity strategy. Staff are also contributing to the development of a region-wide walking and cycling strategy.

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

Oranga Hā – Tai Poutini: Free smokefree support on the West Coast

Oranga Hā – Tai Poutini/ Stop Smoking West Coast offers free support to help West Coasters stop smoking.

You will recieve a personalised stop smoking programme after an initial face-to-face meeting. This programme could include face-to-face meetings, texting, videoing, skyping, emails or attending group sessions. You will also receive free Nicotine Replacement Therapy as part of this customised support – patches, gum and lozenges.

Oranga Hā – Tai Poutini also offers the pregnancy incentive for the pregnant mother and the new extended programme if other whānau supporting the mother also stop smoking.

Back to basics: Helpful eating info for summer

You may notice social media posts or magazines touting “new” ideas about diets and food as summer approaches. These sound convincing but can be confusing.

Here’s some back to basics advice with “tasters” of the foods our bodies really need and why…

  • A range of different coloured vegetables and fruits provide vitamins that support our cells and organs to function and help our immune systems to protect us from infection.
  • Starchy vegetables (like potatoes and kumara), wholegrain rice, pasta, breads and cereals all provide slow-release energy to sustain our brains and bodies. The also provide fibre to help digestion, prevent constipation and maintain gut health.
  • Lentils, beans, chickpeas, tofu, fish, and lean red meat are packed with protein and good sources of iron too. Protein and iron support healthy blood oxygen levels, bone growth and repair.
  • Plain milk and milk products are great sources of calcium for bone strength and heart function. Yoghurt, milk and cheese, fortified soy or rice milk, and tofu are all good sources too. Vitamin D helps our bones to absorb calcium, so spend some time outside with skin exposed to the sun before 10am and after 4pm during summer.
  • Unsaturated fats from plants such as nuts, peanut butter, seeds, avocado, canola and olive oil; and oily fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines support healthy cell function, hormone production and transport essential vitamins. Coconut oil is high in saturated fat which increases cholesterol levels, so use it sparingly.

Did you know?: Pacific people don’t eat coconut oil – they use it to moisturise their hair and skin.

Choose a variety of foods and enjoy your festive favourites this summer.


Healthinfo West Coast.

Page last updated: 25/11/2019

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