Ministry of Health (New Zealand)

The Ministry of Health (Māori: Manatū Hauora) is the public service department of New Zealand responsible for healthcare in New Zealand. It came into existence in its current form in 1993.

Ministry of Health
Manatū Hauora
Agency overview
JurisdictionNew Zealand
Headquarters133 Molesworth Street,
Wellington 6011
Employees1,084 FTE staff[1]
Annual budgetVote Health
Total budget for 2019/20
Ministers responsible
Agency executive


The Department of Health was formed in 1903 by the merging of other government departments. Its structure remained relatively static even when the 1938 Social Security Act was passed where the New Zealand government took a larger role in health purchasing. The department remained actively involved in policy (as opposed to purchasing).

By the 1970s problems had appeared in the health system. The high growth rate in hospital expenditure was occurring at a time when the economy was slowing down. Thus, the government was unable to sustain funding this growth.

This led the health system to undergo a series of changes over a 20-year period from the 1980s. During the 1990s the National government attempted to stream-line the system in a series of reforms such as separating the government purchasing and provision of health care services. During this time the department was renamed as the Ministry of Health.

Current roleEdit

The Labour-Alliance coalition government redefined the role of the Ministry of Health as part of Labour's election promises in the 1999 election.

The separate government health service purchasing entity, the Health Funding Authority, was merged with the Ministry of Health. Critics were anxious as to how the Ministry would perform as a funder, as they commented that the Ministry had in the past only performed as a policy organisation. However, supporters of this move stated that they believed this would make these agencies more accountable.

The Ministry of Health funds public health promotions such as smoking cessation and immunisation programmes,[3] as part of the New Zealand Primary Health Strategy will move towards funding universal access to primary care services for New Zealand citizens. In 2003 the Ministry of Health began forming Primary Health Organisations in an effort to move health care services from fee-for-service arrangements to capitation funding for health professionals who are members of these organisations.

District health boardsEdit

District health boards (DHBs) were formed in 2001 as a subsidiary organisation of the Ministry. They cover a defined geographical area; as of 2021 there are twenty different DHBs.[4] They are responsible for hospitals and funding some health provisions in their respective areas. Funding for these DHBs is allocated according to the Ministry's population-based funding formula.[5] The DHBs can be considered much like the board of trustees of a school, some members are elected while others are government-appointed. In April 2021, the Labour government announced that the system of DHBs will be abolished and replaced by a centralised agency to be called Health New Zealand and a Māori Health Authority.[6]


So-called "business units" of the Ministry include:[7]

  • Chief Nurse
  • Clinical Leadership, Protection and Regulation
  • Corporate Services
  • Māori Health
  • National Health Board (NHB): Set up in November 2009 and addresses issues such as rising costs, increased demand, an aging population and shortages of staff with a view to improving the quality, safety and sustainability of health care.[8]
  • Policy
  • Sector Capability and Implementation

Medsafe carries out medical regulatory functions within the Ministry.


The Ministry serves 1 portfolio and 4 ministers.

Officeholder Portfolios Other responsibilities
Hon Andrew Little Lead Minister (Ministry of Health)
Minister of Health
Hon Peeni Henare Associate Minister of Health (Māori Health)
Hon Dr Ayesha Verrall Associate Minister of Health
Hon Aupito William Sio Associate Minister of Health (Pacific Peoples)


  1. ^ Annual Report for the year ended 30 June 2015 (PDF), Ministry of Health, October 2015
  2. ^ "Total Appropriations for Each Vote". Budget 2019. The Treasury.
  3. ^ "Immunisation". Ministry of Health.
  4. ^ "District health boards". Ministry of Health NZ. Retrieved 14 June 2021.
  5. ^ "Population-based funding formula". Ministry of Health NZ. Retrieved 14 June 2021.
  6. ^ Manch, Thomas; Witton, Bridie (21 April 2021). "Government announces radical plan to centralise healthcare, will abolish DHBs". Stuff. Retrieved 14 June 2021.
  7. ^ "Ministry business units". Ministry of Health – Manatū Hauora. Ministry of Health – Manatū Hauora. 2014. Retrieved 22 August 2014. The Ministry is comprised of business units, each with its own functions and areas of responsibility. These include the National Health Board, the Chief Nurse and the Policy, Clinical Leadership, Protection and Regulation, Māori Health, Sector Capability and Implementation and Corporate Services business units.
  8. ^ "National Health Board: About us". Ministry of Health. 2012. Archived from the original on 25 February 2013. Retrieved 6 March 2013. The public health and disability system faces serious challenges which range from rapidly rising costs to increased demand for services, an aging population and international shortages of skilled clinical specialists.[...] The National Health Board (NHB) was established by the Government in November 2009, to address these issues and improve the quality, safety and sustainability of health care, for New Zealanders. [...] The NHB is made up of a Ministerial appointed Board and a branded business unit within the Ministry of Health.

External linksEdit