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District Health Boards (New Zealand)

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Title: District Health Boards (New Zealand)  
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Subject: Ministry of Health (New Zealand), St John New Zealand, Health Funding Authority, Health care in New Zealand
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District Health Boards (New Zealand)

District Health Boards (DHBs) in New Zealand are organisations established by the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000, responsible for ensuring the provision of health and disability services to populations within a defined geographical area. They have existed since 1 January 2001 when the Act came into force.[1] There are 20 DHBs (15 in the North Island and 5 in the South Island). From their creation until 1 May 2010, there were 21 DHBs. At that date, Otago DHB and Southland DHB amalgamated their boards to form the new Southern DHB.[2] DHBs receive public funding from the Ministry of Health on behalf of the Crown, based on a formula which takes into account the total number, age, socioeconomic status and ethnic mix of their population.


District Health Boards were first introduced as an idea in the 1970s in the Green and White Paper suggested by the then in-power Labour government. This was part of a plan to nationalise primary health care as the Social Security Act of 1938 had originally intended. Labour subsequently lost the election to Rob Muldoon's National Party in the 1975 election. Muldoon's government chose however to slowly implement these reforms in trial "Area Health Boards", which can be seen as early predecessors of the District Health Boards.

The more direct pre-decessors were the Crown Health Enterprises (CHEs) and subsequent Hospital and Health Services (HHS) management structures of the 1990s; these were responsible for managing the hospitals under business ethos, albeit, with the expectation that the former would return a profit to the shareholders (i.e. the government).

In the 1990s "Regional Health Authorities" (RHA) were formed. These RHAs were amalgamated in 1997 to form the Health Funding Authority ("HFA"). The election of the Labour-Alliance government in the 1999 General Election saw the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000 passed by parliament, this led to the merging of the HFA with the Ministry of Health. Part of the HFA's funding capacity combined with the hospital management elements of the Hospital and Health Services board to form the DHBs.


The District Health Boards are given a set of objectives by the Ministry of Health, but have a degree of autonomy in how they choose to achieve these. In contrast to their predecessors, the Regional Health Authorities, the DHBs are non-profit providers. The performance of individual DHBs is monitored by the DHB Funding and Performance Directorate.[3] DHBs provide funding to Primary Health Organisations (PHOs).

The DHBs are governed by boards, which consist of up to 11 members: seven elected by the public every three years, and up to four appointed by the Government's Minister of Health. These appointments are largely to balance the board's expertise as deemed necessary.[4] Voting for public-elected DHB board members occurs through the single transferable vote system, and elections take place at the same time as local body elections. The last elections being held on 9 October 2010, and the next elections are due on 12 October 2013.

Taranaki and Wairarapa District Health Boards maintain their own ambulance services, with St John and the Wellington Free Ambulance covering the rest of the country.[5]

On May 1, 2010, the Otago and Southland DHBs were merged to form a new Southern DHB, with elected members coming from two constituencies, Otago and Southland, and the remainder, appointed members of the Minister of Health, with the change taking effect from the 2010 local body elections. From July 1, 2010, a unified Primary Health Organisation covers the entire new Southern DHB region with PHO Centres in Alexandra, Dunedin and Invercargill with the mandate of providing PHO resources and services, replacing the previous nine PHOs.


There are 20 DHBs, organized around geographical areas, of varying population sizes, though they are not coterminous with the Regions of New Zealand:

Name Acronym/Short name Website Area covered Population[6]
Auckland ADHB Auckland City 441,100
Bay of Plenty BOPDHB Tauranga City, Western Bay of Plenty District, Whakatane District, Kawerau District 207,700
Canterbury CDHB Christchurch City, Kaikoura District, Hurunui District, Waimakariri District, Selwyn District, Ashburton District 502,000
Capital and Coast CCDHB Wellington City, Porirua City, Kapiti Coast District (excluding Otaki) 288,100
Counties Manukau CMDHB Manukau City, Papakura District, Franklin District 481,700
Hawke's Bay HBDHB Napier City, Hastings District, Wairoa District, Central Hawke's Bay District, Chatham Islands 153,900
Hutt Valley Hutt Valley DHB Upper Hutt City, Hutt City 142,700
Lakes Rotorua District, Taupo District 101,800
MidCentral MDHB Palmerston North City, Manawatu District, Horowhenua District, Otaki 166,000
Nelson Marlborough NMDHB Nelson City, Tasman District, Marlborough District 136,800
Northland NDHB Far North District, Whangarei District, Kaipara District 155,800
South Canterbury SCDHB Timaru District, Waimate District 55,600
Southern Southern DHB Dunedin City, Waitaki District, Central Otago District, Queenstown Lakes District, Clutha District, Invercargill City, Gore District, Southland District 300,400
Tairawhiti Gisborne District 46,200
Taranaki TDHB New Plymouth District, Stratford District, South Taranaki District 108,300
Waikato Waikato DHB Hamilton City, Waikato District, Matamata Piako District, Thames Coromandel District, Hauraki District, Waipa District, South Waikato District, Otorohanga District, Waitomo District, Ruapehu District north of the Makatote Viaduct 365,700
Wairarapa Wairarapa DHB Masterton District, Carterton District, South Wairarapa District 39,900
Waitemata Waitemata DHB North Shore City, Waitakere City, Rodney District 528,500
West Coast WCDHB Buller District, Grey District, Westland District 32,600
Whanganui WDHB Wanganui District, Rangitikei District, Ruapehu District south of the Makatote Viaduct 63,200


External links

  • New Zealand Ministry of Health: District Health Boards
  • Auckland Health Careers - Jobs within New Zealand DHBs
  • CarePlus - Helping healthcare professionals relocate to New Zealand
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