Whakamanahia te whāngote, ka ora whānau, ka ora hapū, ka ora te iwi e
Empower breastfeeding and whānau, hapū and iwi will flourish

The National Breastfeeding Strategy for Aotearoa has been developed to support the exclusivity and duration of breastfeeding. Increasing the exclusivity and duration of breastfeeding is a key determinant of public health and is one of the most significant and cost-effective ways to improve equity and increase the health and wellbeing of a population.

This National Breastfeeding Strategy was developed with the intention and commitment to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding in Aotearoa New Zealand. It has been designed as a resource for government, policy makers, stakeholder organisations, public and private health sectors, industry, researchers and academics, iwi, hapū, whānau and communities as a tool to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.

Global public health recommendations state that infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life, with continued breastfeeding to age two years and beyond, with nutritionally adequate, safe and age-appropriate complementary feeding starting at around six months of age (World Health Organization and United Nations Children's Fund 2003).

In Aotearoa New Zealand only between 17 and 22 percent of children are exclusively breastfed to around six months (Ministry of Social Development 2018). Rates of exclusive breastfeeding are consistently lower for Māori and Pacific people.

Achieving ‘optimal infant feeding’ is a complex and multidimensional challenge that requires strong government leadership and coordination, and a holistic, whole-of-system approach.

Improving breastfeeding rates in Aotearoa New Zealand will directly contribute to:

  • achieving equitable health outcomes for Māori
  • improving overall population health outcomes
  • improving maternal and child mental wellbeing
  • reducing health costs through prevention of illness
  • sustainability and waste reduction

The Strategy presents a roadmap to action in two parts, guided by pae ora. The first part outlines the priorities for Government to ensure the foundations are set for the actions and outcomes that follow. The second part outlines these actions and outcomes, which will build a solid structure for the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding in Aotearoa New Zealand.


Ministry of Social Development. 2018. Infant feeding in New Zealand: Adherence to Food and Nutrition Guidelines among the Growing Up in New Zealand Cohort November 2018. Wellington: Ministry of Social Development.

World Health Organization, United Nations Children’s Fund. 2003. Global strategy for infant and young child feeding. Geneva: World Health Organization.

World Health Organization. 2009. Infant and young child feeding: Model chapter for textbooks for medical students and allied health professionals. Geneva: World Health Organization.