Profile of public health organisations 

Public health organisations are the key players in delivering health services across New Zealand. Other health and non-health organisations may deliver some public health services as part of their other usual business, for example, primary health and local government organisations.

The Ministry of Health (MOH)

The Ministry of Health provides direct advice to the Minister of Health and other sectors. It manages public health risks, as well as planning and co-ordinating strategies. 
Public health employees in the Ministry of Health are part of the public health sector.  


Public Health Units (PHUs)


There are 12 Public Health Units which are the backbone of public health services covering the whole of New Zealand.
These units are owned by District Health Boards and their public health services are funded by the Ministry of Health.

Some Public Health Units cover more than one District Health Board area to provide the most effective coverage across an area.  Each Public Health Units contract usually includes a component that requires the delivery of services to Maori and to other specific ethnic populations.

Public Health Units deliver both health protection and health promotion activities, such as monitoring food safety and providing information to the public about nutrition and physical activity.

Non-Government Organisations (NGOs)

There are more than 200 Non-Government Organisations providing public health services, including:

  • Organisations that provide services for the general population
  • Maori governed and managed services that provide services specifically for Maori or for the general population
  • Pacific governed and managed services that provide services for Pacific people

Some NGO services are national; some regional and local; and some are a combination of these.

Public health NGOs help to ensure public health protection and prevention services work well in each community.

These organisations may be funded through health or other government funding sources, or may receive funds from community grants or private industry.

Some NGO providers have services that address a wide range of issues. For example, regional iwi providers deliver Well Child, Auahi Kore (Smokefree), nutrition and physical activity, alcohol and drug, and mental health programmes and services.

Some special interest NGO providers focus on one issue. Examples are the National Heart Foundation and the Mental Health Foundation. 

Primary Care Services


In addition to providing treatment services to individuals (e.g. GP services, physiotherapy, midwifery, etc), primary care services may also provide public health programs that meet the needs of the population groups in their community (e.g. immunisations, screening services and smoking cessation).

Other organisations


There are a range of other organisations that participate in public health action, but are not funded with government health money.

For example, local government, New Zealand Food Safety Authority, Department of Labour, Ministry for the Environment, Universities, Territorial Authorities, etc).


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