The largest international conference hosted in Rotorua has started welcoming more than 1200 health delegates from around the world.
The International Union for Health Promotion and Education (IUHPE) conference opened last night with the theme "Waiora: Promoting Planetary Health and Sustainable Development for All".
Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa opened the conference, which runs until April 11, and will see delegates from around the world come together to discuss best practice in health promotion, research, and theory.
Salesa said it was vital to improve planetary health and achieve sustainable development for all and commended the Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand, which is co-hosting the conference, and IUHPE for putting the conference's extensive programme together.
"The range of topics covered reflects how important health promotion is in addressing all aspects of health," she said.
"We are at a unique point in history. We have higher life expectancy, lower child mortality, lower maternal mortality and considerable advances in science and technology. Despite this, we are facing significant challenges to the health of global population and natural systems on which we depend.
"While common to all people and nations, these challenges impact some populations disproportionately. It is imperative that we strive to improve planetary health and achieve sustainable development for all."
Salesa said the Government would release the world's first "Wellbeing Budget" this year.
"This approach lifts our gaze from health to wellbeing, and re-frames our understanding of the determinants of both health and wellbeing.
"Specific priorities include transitioning to a low-emissions economy, lifting incomes of those at highest risk of experiencing poverty, for example our Māori and Pacific communities, supporting innovation in the digital age, improving child and youth wellbeing, and addressing mental health needs, particularly for those under 24 years old," Salesa said.
Executive director for the Health Promotion Forum Sione Tu'itahi said HPF and its partners wished to contribute to addressing common global challenges.
"Unless we think global and act on all levels, we will not resolve those determinants of health that are interrelated and common to all.
"In times of troubles, as in the case of recent sad events in our country, we acknowledge with loving compassion, the loss and suffering, while we continue to be galvanised within the richness and strengths of our diversity, and work together across the world to promote peace and wellbeing," he said.
Tu'itahi said while climate change was the most significant issue in the world today the Pacific region was one of the regions where it was most pronounced.
"In the words of one of our Pacific leaders, 'it is climate crisis for us in the Pacific.'"
He pointed out that while New Zealand wished to learn from the world, it also hoped to contribute its experience , especially in indigenous health promotion.
"For centuries we have explored and applied the knowledge of the west, and east. It is timely with where we are now as a world community, to learn also from indigenous knowledge systems."
IUHPE President and co-chairman Graham Robertson said the conference programme provided a platform for the IUHPE's Global Working Groups and members to showcase their work, as it does for guest speakers and many other contributors.
"It also allows the IUHPE to hear of latest developments and ideas that can inform future plans and advocacy work," he said.
Destination Rotorua business events manager Craig Murray said the event was a great opportunity to showcase Rotorua's ability to host large conferences and provide a high-quality experience.
"An event of this scale involves many of our hospitality and visitor industry operators, as delegates will have opportunities to explore Rotorua and enjoy some of the restaurants and attractions on offer.
"Part of our role at Destination Rotorua is ensuring that the city is able to showcase our manaakitanga in the best way. For example, we are making sure that restaurants, bars, and taxis are aware of the conference schedule so that they can be prepared for large numbers of customers at key times."
He said Destination Rotorua had also prepared to show delegates around town "with special way finding routes marked in temporary chalk on footpaths to direct delegates between the Energy Events Centre and the breakout sessions hosted at the Millennium, Novotel and Sudima hotels."
IUHPE is a worldwide, independent and professional association of individuals and organisations committed to improving the health and wellbeing of people through education, community action and the development of public health policy.
Conference dates and times:
April 5-6, delegates arrive
April 7, 4-8.30pm, pohiri, opening plenary, welcome function
April 7, from 8.30pm, 1200+ delegates will be in town for dinner at leisure
April 8, conference finishes at 6:30pm and there's an optional social function at Skyline and Offroad NZ
April 9, conference finishes at 6.30pm and there's an optional social function at Te Puia
April 10, conference finishes at 7pm and there's an optional social function at Hobbiton
April 11, conference closing ceremony finishes at 12.50pm
April 11, delegates will start to leave, although some will remain in town overnight