News & Events

Throw of the dice favours wellbeing

1 May 2018

Roll on in to your local Christchurch City Library to pick up your downtime dice.

The new well-being tool from All Right? encourages Cantabrians to enjoy some “guilt-free downtime” – utilising free dice that features feel-good suggestions, such as enjoying the outdoors or making community connections.

The dice are available for pick-up now from the following libraries along with several cafes:

  • Central Library in Peterborough Street;
  • Fendalton;
  • New Brighton;
  • Papanui;
  • Shirley;
  • South;
  • Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre; and
  • Upper Riccarton.

All Right? manager Sue Turner underlines the importance of prioritising downtime. “A few minutes of quality downtime can boost our energy, focus, creativity, productivity and happiness,” Ms Turner says. “Sometimes we need a gentle reminder that it’s OK to take a break, and that’s where our downtime dice come in.”

The downtime dice suggests a range of simple activities, such as enjoying music, getting outside, or catching up with a friend.

Christchurch-based All Blacks leadership manager Gilbert Enoka views downtime as an integral part of his day. “Downtime can be simple things like reading a book, having a coffee, having a treat of some sort… but it’s the ordinary and soul-enriching nature of those pleasures that really enhances individuals and increases their capacity to function at high levels and feel really good about themselves,” Mr Enoka says.

“I think society needs resilient citizens and that goes for workers, athletes, men, women, and children. “Developing resilience is about exposing yourself to waves of stress and waves of recovery. Having downtime is good for your recovery.” He believes that 10 to 15-minute ’emotional recovery activities’ can help anybody. “They’re like pit stops in a race, where you just go in to fill up energy.”

Source: Christchurch City Council Newsline (1st May 2018).

Influenza: Don’t get it, don’t give it

27 March 2018

Around one in four New Zealanders are infected with influenza or ‘flu’ each year. Influenza can be anywhere, and is highly contagious.

Influenza is more than just a ‘bad cold’ – it is a serious illness that can put anyone in hospital or even kill them, including young and healthy people. Symptoms of influenza include a cough, sore throat, headache, fever, body aches and pains, fatigue and generally feeling miserable. Fever and body aches can last for up to 5 days, and the cough and fatigue may last for two or more weeks.

You may have influenza and not feel unwell – but you can still pass it on and make other people very sick. It is important you do not pass the flu onto those who are particularly vulnerable. Pregnant women and their babies can suffer serious consequences as a result of influenza.

Older people and those with certain medical conditions are also more likely to be affected by the flu. This is because influenza can make an existing medical condition worse (including asthma and diabetes), or increase the risk of complications such as pneumonia heart failure, and worsening asthma.

Stay at home from work, school or preschool if you have the flu so that you don’t spread it to others. Even a mild case of influenza can disrupt your everyday activities with family, friends, community and work.

Handwashing is an important and effective way of reducing the spread of influenza.

Influenza vaccination is FREE for those who need it most

Getting immunised each year as early as possible before winter hits gives the best protection, and protection can last until the next year.

You need to get the flu vaccine each year as your protection lessens over time and the flu strains in the vaccine often change each year. Over a million New Zealanders get the annual immunisation against influenza.

The influenza vaccine is safe, effective and cannot give you “the flu”.

The seasonal influenza vaccine is FREE for the following eligible people:

  1. Pregnant women – at any stage or trimester in the pregnancy
  2. Anyone aged 65 years or over
  3. Children aged four years and under who have been hospitalised for respiratory illness or have a history of significant respiratory illness.
  4. Anyone under 65 years with one or more of the following medical conditions:
    • Cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disease
    • Chronic respiratory diseases
    • Diabetes
    • Cancer, excluding basal and squamous skin cancers if not invasive
    • Other conditions (such as chronic renal disease, autoimmune diseases, transplant recipients, neuromuscular and central nervous systems diseases, and haemoglobinopathies).

The Canterbury DHB has also made flu vaccinations free for all under 18 year olds in Kaikoura and Hurunui districts.

You can still get the influenza vaccine from your general practice or local pharmacy for a small cost if you are not eligible for a free vaccine.

Fight the Bite: New campaign to fight mosquito-borne diseases

17 March 2018

Fight the bite – day and night. That’s the message the Ministry of Health is promoting to raise more awareness of the diseases mosquitoes in some countries can carry.

The new social media and online campaign has been prompted by recent outbreaks of dengue in parts of the Pacific and an increased number of dengue cases recorded mainly in Auckland among travellers returning from the Pacific.

263 dengue cases were reported in New Zealand from 1st August 2017 through to 14th March 2018 – with 222 believed to have been acquired in the Pacific Islands. This includes 162 in Samoa, 30 in Tonga, 24 in Fiji, one in American Samoa and one in Vanuatu. One hundred and sixty-nine people were hospitalised.

Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay says fortunately, New Zealand’s mosquitos don’t spread dengue or other viral diseases such as malaria, yellow fever and Zika.

“But as the recent increase in dengue cases in Auckland shows, there is a very real risk to people travelling to countries with tropical climates. Our new campaign aims to highlight to people travelling overseas that mosquito bites can result in serious diseases, such as dengue. And these diseases can make you or your loved ones very sick.”

The best way to avoid mosquito-borne diseases is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes says Dr McElnay.

The Ministry has released a new video to launch the campaign with tips on how to prevent mosquito bites.

Get more information about dengue fever, including symptoms and treatment. Samoan, Tongan and Fijian translations of this information are available.

Source: Ministry of Health media release (16th March 2018).

Health risks of nitrates in drinking water

19 October 2017

Water pouring from a tap into a glass.Nitrate (NO3) is a compound that is formed when nitrogen combines with oxygen. Sometimes high amounts of nitrate get into drinking water. Typical sources of nitrate include:

  • fertilisers,
  • animal wastes, particularly in areas of intensified farming,
  • unreticulated sewage disposal systems, and
  • industrial and food processing waste.

Nitrate is highly soluble in water, making it readily transported through the soil to groundwater.

Negative health effects of nitrates in drinking water

High levels of nitrate can pose a risk to babies less than six months who are formula fed and the unborn foetus of pregnant women. Adults with specific rare metabolic disorders may also be at risk.

Nitrate is converted into nitrite by bacteria in the gut. This nitrite combines with foetal haemoglobin in the foetus or infant less than 6 months old, preventing oxygen from binding and being distributed around the body. Symptoms include blueness around the mouth, hands and feet – hence the name ‘blue baby’ syndrome. In severe cases it can affect breathing and be life-threatening.

Fully breastfed infants are not affected as nitrites do not enter the breast-milk. Very few cases of ‘blue baby’ syndrome have been reported in New Zealand, though nitrates in groundwater have been rising in the last twenty years.

Nitrate levels in your drinking water

Council water supplies in Canterbury currently have safe nitrate levels.

Many rural drinking water bores in Canterbury are at risk of elevated nitrate levels. Some private bores exceeding the recommended safe level of nitrates. Environment Canterbury (ECan) has produced maps identifying where nitrate levels in drinking water may be a concern – last updated in 2015.

The maps identify green, yellow and red areas:

  • Green areas are where nitrate concentrations in groundwater are always below the Maximum Acceptable Level (MAV) and the water is therefore safe to drink.
  • Red areas are where nitrate concentrations in groundwater are above the MAV most or all of the time. Alternative water sources should be used for drinking in these areas.
  • Yellow areas are where it is not known if a sample collected from a well will have nitrate concentrations exceeding the MAV. Testing is recommended in these areas.

Get your bore water tested for nitrates

The drinking water consumed by pregnant women, or formula fed babies under 6 months coming from a private bore in a medium to high risk area should be tested for nitrates.

Testing is the only way to detect nitrate as it is tasteless, odourless and colourless. There are several laboratories that are able to test for nitrate.

Drinking Water Standards for New Zealand set a Maximum Acceptable Level (MAV) of 50mg/L for nitrate, which is equivalent to 11.3mg/l nitrate-nitrogen. Some laboratories report nitrate levels whereas other report nitrate-nitrogen. Ensure that you are aware which they are reporting if you are getting your water tested.

What do if your drinking water has high nitrate levels

If tests show that nitrate levels are above or close to the MAV then pregnant women and formula-fed infants less than 6 months should use an alternative water source for drinking or making up formula.

If tests reveal that nitrate levels are above half the MAV then the water is safe to drink. However the water should be tested monthly to ensure that it does not increase over the MAV.

Nitrate levels do vary over the year. Often results are highest in spring (following rain and snow melt). High nitrate levels have been found in late summer in areas where there is extensive irrigation.

Page last updated: 24/04/2018

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