Our role in the health system
Te Whatu Ora leads the day-to-day running of the health system across New Zealand, with functions delivered at local, district, regional and national levels.
It weaves the functions of the 20 former District Health Boards (DHBs) into its regional divisions and district offices, ensuring continuity of services in the health system.
Te Whatu Ora manages all health services, including hospital and specialist services, and primary and community care. Hospital and specialist services are planned nationally so they can be delivered more consistently across the country.
It also manages national contracts.
Primary health, wellbeing and community-based services are planned and then purchased through the four regional divisions of Te Whatu Ora.
Each region works with their district offices, located closer to local communities, to develop and implement plans based on local needs to improve the health and wellbeing of communities.
Te Whatu Ora is also responsible for improving services and outcomes across the health system. We do this in partnership with the Māori Health Authority.
2022 health system reforms
In 2018, the Government commissioned an independent review into our health system: the Health and Disability System Review/Hauora Manaaki Ki Aotearoa Whānui (the Review).
The Review was based on widespread consultation with the health and disability sectors and interested parties over an 18-month period.
It found a fragmented health system that did not serve everyone well and produced unequal outcomes, particularly for vulnerable populations.
In September 2020, the Health Reform Transition Unit was established within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet in response to the Review.
Led by former Director-General of Health Stephen McKernan, the Transition Unit provided the Government with advice on the response to the Review and the future of our health system, including:
- developing the policy response and design of the system operating model
- providing advice on the establishment of new entities and legislative change
- working on an overall implementation plan and work programme for the transition.
Details of the reforms
In April 2021, the Government announced details of the reforms that culminated in the passing of the Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) Act 2022 which, among other changes, established Te Whatu Ora - Health New Zealand.
Our new health system is a single health service providing consistent, high-quality health services for all people.
The Ministry of Health is focused on policy, strategy and regulation while Te Whatu Ora has taken over the planning and commissioning of services and the functions of the 20 former District Health Boards to remove duplication and provide true national planning.
Te Aka Whai Ora - Māori Health Authority works alongside Te Whatu Ora to improve services and achieve equitable health outcomes for Māori.
Transition Unit resources
Changing the systemFind out how we're transforming the health system to care for the wellbeing of people, their whānau and communities.
Te Pae Tata Interim New Zealand Health PlanThe interim NZ Health Plan sets out the first two years of health system transformation to improve the health & wellbeing of all New Zealanders.
Interim Government Policy Statement on Health 2022-2024 (goes to another website)The interim Government Policy Statement on Health 2022-2024 (or interim GPS) is the public statement of what Government expects the health system to deliver and achieve over the next two years, and how success will be measured, monitored and reported.