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About the Health Promotion and Policy Research Unit (HePPRU)

The Health Promotion and Policy Research Unit (HePPRU) aims to foster excellence in research in health promotion and public health policy. HePPRU works in collaboration with policy-makers and policy advocates to advance the good health of the peoples of Aotearoa/New Zealand through independent, critical and innovative research, teaching, and community service. The multi-cultural and multi-disciplinary team within HePPRU has expertise in qualitative and quantitative research methods.

The Unit has a particular emphasis on the prevention of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). It has a strong focus on risk factors including nutrition and tobacco. It also has a strong focus on promoting the health and well-being of children, teaching and community service. Members of HePPRU are leading and contributing a programme of research which will inform health promotion and public health policy development and advocacy. The Unit is committed to Treaty-based research and uses the Ottawa Charter as a working framework.

HePPRU brings together health promotion and public health policy researchers working at the University of Otago, Wellington. We also work closely with researchers in other University of Otago sites, at other universities inside and outside of New Zealand, and with staff from other agencies involved with health promotion and policy.


  1. Facilitate a strategic approach to health promotion and public health policy research
  2. Promote an equity-based approach to research in this area
  3. Foster collaborative policy-orientated research within and outside of HePPRU
  4. Increase the amount and quality of research in this arena

Areas of research interest

The areas of research interest are varied and evolving, and include the following:

  1. Effective policy interventions to promote healthy eating and healthy action
  2. The environmental influences on food and nutrition related behaviours
  3. The politics of food and nutrition
  4. Tackling inequities through health promotion and public health policy
  5. Research to inform the development of key current tobacco control policies in New Zealand such as smoke-free environments, taxation, and point of sale
  6. Denormalisation of the tobacco industry and tobacco industry, product and market regulation
  7. Tobacco endgames options
  8. Child and youth health promotion


  • HePPRU staff are involved in teaching relevant papers and topics in the Certificate and Diploma in Public Health, and the Masters in Public Health postgraduate programmes - More Information
  • Staff are also involved in the undergraduate medical curriculum - More Information
  • HePPRU frequently have courses in the Department of Public Health Summer School in February of each year - More Information
  • See the Movies for Undergraduate Public Health Teaching webpage which shows films with public health content which have been used for medical student teaching - More Information
  • We are also exploring the use of e-books of novels with public health themes for medical student training - download e-books and public health teaching report and a final list of selected novels (ebooks & print formats)