Whanganui's Adrian Te Patu is excited at the opportunity to attend two international public health gatherings in Geneva, Switzerland, this month.

Mr Te Patu has lived in Canterbury for 25 years and returned to his birthplace of Whanganui in 2015. He has had a varied career working for government departments and community organisations in roles linked to health and education.

He has been the voluntary co-vice president of the Public Health Association of New Zealand for six months, and earlier this month facilitated a one-day Maori Public Health symposium for it in Wellington.

On Friday he leaves for Geneva, one of two people representing the Asia-Pacific region at the World Federation of Public Health Associations' General Assembly. Most if not all of the other representatives will be doctors or researchers with PhD degrees.


"I'll be taking to the table a lens that belongs to the Pacific and to New Zealand and to an indigenous person," he said.

For Mr Te Patu the trip is mostly self-funded, with a contribution from Te Ati Hau Trust.

After that he has observer status as part of the New Zealand delegation at the World Health Assembly in the same Swiss city. For the next three years, New Zealand will be representing the Asia-Pacific region at the annual World Health Assembly. That gathering mainly consists of health ministers from 194 countries.

Mr Te Patu has had decades of involvement with public health and travelled internationally for the health sector. He's looking forward to connecting with others in the field.

He said public health was the research and measures that kept people healthy and out of hospital. Internationally it dealt with everything from Ebola outbreaks to childhood obesity, and it was very important.

"It won't be an idiot pushing the button or any other apocalyptic happening that will be the end of the human race. It will probably be a virus," he said.