Background to Waka Toa Ora

Waka Toa Ora was formerly known as Healthy Christchurch, and is an intersectoral initiative that is based on the idea that all sectors and groups have a role to play in creating a healthy Canterbury.

The signatory members have diverse areas of interest or focus, and cover many aspects of health and wellbeing.

View the A-Z of Waka Toa Ora signatories.

Development of Healthy Christchurch

Healthy Christchurch was initiated in 2000, and sponsored by large organisations operating within the city:

  • Canterbury District Health Board;
  • Christchurch City Council;
  • Environment Canterbury;
  • Ministry of Health;
  • the NZ Police;
  • Partnership Health Canterbury PHO;
  • Pegasus Health;
  • Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu; and
  • University of Otago Christchurch.

Other groups or agencies were approached and invited in 2001 to become involved in shaping the Healthy Christchurch  initiative - to foster genuine collaboration and inclusiveness. Over 150 groups and organisations initially expressed an interest signing the Healthy Christchurch Charter and joining together to work for a healthy city. Being involved was seen as an attractive opportunity to influence key city health providers and have direct input into the strategic direction of local health policy. Today more than 200 signatory groups are committed to the charter.

The Healthy Christchurch Charter was initially developed through a series of workshops and hui in 2001. A collaborative process was used once again to update the original charter - starting at the 2017 Waka Toa Ora Hui. The Waka Toa Ora Charter remains a strong starting point for developing relationships between signatory organisations - based on shared values and mutual respect.

What signatories contribute to Waka Toa Ora

Signatories can contribute and offer what they can to the partnership according to their means and agree to:

  • meet to address issues of mutual concern;
  • develop priorities; and
  • plan cross-sectoral and inter-agency strategies.

Groups and organisations can give differently, such as  contributing time, equipment, money, or sharing their expertise and experience.

Outcomes of Healthy Christchurch and Waka Toa Ora

Waka Toa Ora has become a major vehicle for enabling cooperation between agencies to improve health and wellbeing across population groups. Signatory forums provide a useful means of consultation, training and debate. Signatories prioritise a variety of collaborative projects which promote wellbeing, whether these focus on environmental, economic or social aspects of life in Christchurch.

Many successful projects have been completed since Healthy Christchurch's official launch in February 2002, including:

  • researching what constitutes a genuine 'living' wage for local workers and encouraging its implementation;
  • Christmas food parcels to 800 disadvantaged children and their families;
  • toothbrushes and fluoridated toothpaste provided as part of a wider programme to address the complex issues that make tooth decay a real problem for many Christchurch families;
  • compiling a comprehensive health information directory for schools; and
  • a consultation forum in 2005 around Community Outcomes as the forerunner to the Long Term Council Community Plan for Christchurch.