The effect in practice of the reported lack of coherent national planning and priority setting within the HEHA framework showed through in the submission from Northland residents Robin and Jenny Hoare. For some time the Hoares have been researching and promoting the establishment of ‘Healthy Life Centres’, funded by central government, and operated at first on an experimental basis.

These centres would cater for a wide range activities, but with a focus on non-competitive and fun physical activity, and would provide advice on healthy lifestyles. The Hoares made a strong case for such centres in their submission (s29). As reported in their submission, the Minister of Health wrote to them on 17 February 2006 as follows:

Your concept of having Healthy Living Centres fits in well with the HEHA strategy, in particular the HEHA objectives that mention creating supportive environments and strengthening community action… [Such facilities are] largely the responsibility of local bodies working with the various communities in their areas (s29, p11).

The Hoares reported having no success with local authorities, and believed that most are either unable or unwilling to provide such facilities. They went on to pose a crucial question: “Should health promotion really be their [local authorities’] responsibility?”. The strong weight of opinion in the health sector, as evident from submissions, was that it was a central government responsibility to evaluate and implement nationally those interventions likely to have the greatest impact in reducing obesity.

The Health Select Committee Inquiry into

Obesity and Type Two Diabetes in New Zealand:

An initial analysis of submissions

Analysis by John White

Prepared for Fight the Obesity Epidemic New Zealand Incorporated

Wellington March 2007