Green Prescriptions

Key points about Green Prescriptions

  • Green Prescriptions Rōngoa Kākāriki is a free health and wellbeing support service that can provide you with support to be more active, eat healthy and live a healthy lifestyle.
  • It's available in many parts of Aotearoa New Zealand for people 18 years of age and over. 
  • There are also programmes available for your whole whānau and if you are pregnant. 
  • Talk to your healthcare provider if you are interested in getting support through the free Green Prescription programme.


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Green Prescriptions are for any adult 18 years and over (in most parts of Aotearoa New Zealand) who wants to improve their wellbeing. There are also programmes for your whole whānau (Active Families) and if you are pregnant, Maternal Green Prescriptions. Te Whatu Ora provides a list of where Green Prescription programmes are available.(external link) 

It's easy in a busy life with lots of demands on your time and not much money to spare to get into the habit of putting yourself and your needs last. You may also have had trauma and abuse, addiction or mental health issues, or live with a long-term condition or disability. All these things can make it harder to take good care of yourself.

A Green Prescription is a way to get support to make some changes and take charge of your health and wellbeing. You get your own support person to work with you to achieve your goals. They know about courses, programmes and other services available in your area. You can also meet other people in your community who are taking steps to improve their health and wellbeing. This means you get personal attention and also the opportunity for more social connection.

You can:

This Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora site provides contact information for all the green prescription regions.(external link) 

Once you receive your Green Prescription, a trained support person will get in touch. Their role is to listen to what your needs are and then support you to make the lifestyle changes you want.

  • They will work with you to identify your goals.
  • Together you can then work out a plan for achieving your goals.
  • They will help you set goals that are achievable and sustainable.
  • They know about the resources, services and programmes available in your area.
  • You will have regular check-ins with your support person so they can keep supporting and encouraging you.
  • There’s also the chance to meet and join other people in your community who are choosing to make changes to improve their health and wellbeing.

With a Green Prescription, you can get support to be more active, take steps to improve your physical and mental health, and to manage a long-term health condition. 

A key part of the Green Prescription is to help you get more active. This may be through a structured course or programme at your local gym, swimming pool, marae or community centre, or it may just be getting support to get going with a more active lifestyle such as through: 

  • walking on your own or in a group
  • swimming or aqua fitness
  • dancing 
  • gardening at your home or a part of a community or marae garden project
  • playing with your family/whānau in the park or backyard

Being active is a key part of the Green Prescription programme because it helps with weight management, sleep and mental wellbeing, as well as improving your cholesterol, blood glucose and blood pressure. It can help you breathe better, have less pain and reduce your risk of falling, as well as make it less likely you will get some other health conditions, such as some types of cancer.

However, you may also want to use your Green Prescription to do other things, such as to find out about healthy eating and how to cook healthy kai. Other people also use their Green Prescription to get support with their mental health or increase their connection to others in their community. It's about getting support for what you need to improve your health and wellbeing. Activities can be in groups, one to one, or both.

Programmes been run by local Green Prescription providers include monthly sessions providing learning opportunities with cardiac nurses for those living with heart disease and atrial fibrillation, a free, indoor aqua session to find out about local community recreation centre, social cycle groups, healthy kay cooking demonstrations, group outings to climb Rangitoto Island and so on.

Video: The Maternal Green Prescription Programme

The Maternal Green Prescription programme offers support and goal setting for the health and wellbeing of you and your family/whānau from the time you get pregnant until after your pēpē is born. Watch these Sport Wellington videos to find out more about the Maternal Green Prescription programme. This video may take a few moments to load.

(Nuku Ora, NZ, 2019)

Video: Maternal Green Prescription in Masterton

This video may take a few moments to load.

 (Nuku Ora, NZ, 2019)

Active Families

Active Families is a free programme to help you and your children/tamariki to get active and learn about healthy eating. Active Family coordinators support your family/whānau to set goals and get involved in programmes with fun, physical activities that children and parents can enjoy together. You also get meet other families/whānau. Find out more about the Active Families programme

On this page, you can find out about current courses running as part of the Green Prescriptions programme.

Auckland and Counties Manukau DHBs

There are 3 new community programme locations for Green Prescription participants to attend, in addition to the existing options.

Community nutrition and wellbeing programmes(external link) available involving physical activity, healthy eating, wellbeing sessions and more.

Their team is also continuing to run the online live streaming exercise classes.

Check the schedule on their website. (external link)

Group of people attending the new green prescription programme posing for camera
Manawatu DHB

Green Prescription classes are run in 7 centres throughout the Sport Manawatu region. Each class promotes the importance of health and physical activity through discussions on topics such as diabetes, motivation and healthy eating. Activity options include a range of exercises from walking, aqua and the gym.

Find out more about the classes available on their website(external link).

Video: Green Prescription Rōngoa Kākāriki  a free nationwide health and wellness service

This video may take a few moments to load.

(Sport Auckland and Green Prescription, NZ, 2020)

Video: Green Prescription 2020 Rangitoto Walk

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(Southseas Healthcare, NZ, 2020)

The Maternal Green Prescription Programme

This free Sport Wellington programme provides support for the health and wellbeing of families/whānau from early pregnancy through to after your baby is born.

Video: Green Prescriptions – Sport Auckland

This video may take a few moments to load.

(Ministry of Health, NZ, 2018)

Video: Green Prescriptions – Exercise ideas for the park/playground

This video may take a few moments to load.

(Ministry of Health, NZ, 2018)

Video: Glen Innes Green Prescription – Sport Auckland 

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(Ministry of Health, NZ, 2018)

Rebecca's story

Rebecca, kaimahi for the Cancer Society in Whangarei, lives with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and atrial fibrillation. Respiratory conditions and diabetes affect many of her whānau and reducing her own risk is part of her motivation for change. Read more about how Rebecca is creating wellness on her own terms(external link)

Idea Service

Idea Service’s Clyde Street whānau in Dargaville are having a great time with their group Green Prescription. Idea Services values the model of Te Whare Tapa Whā and one aspect of that is the importance of exercise for health and wellbeing. Read more about how the programme is empowering them to lead their own journey(external link)

Anthony sstory

"My GP sat me down and said ‘you really have to do something about your health - if you keep going this way, in five years' time you won't be here." Read more about Anthony's Green Prescription(external link).

Keron story

"When you're that heavy, life sort of stops. Now that I've lost all this weight, everything becomes beautiful." Read more about Keron's Green Prescription(external link).  

Video: Green Prescriptions - Evelyn

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Video: Green Prescriptions - Dorene

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Video: Eleanor's journey with Sport Wellington and Green Prescription

Watch how Eleanor made healthy and positive changes to her lifestyle by taking part in the Green Prescription programme at Sport Wellington. This video may take a few moments to load.

(Nuku Ora, NZ, 2018)

Video: Green prescription (GRX)

This video may take a few moments to load.

(Green Prescription, NZ, 2023)

About Green Prescriptions (GRx)

Green Prescriptions (GRx) were established as a health professional’s written advice to a patient to be physically active, as part of the patient’s health management. However, Green Prescriptions can also be accessed directly by anyone who wants to get more active and improve their health.

While the focus is on physical activity, with all the benefits that brings, the programme also includes other services that support people to improve their health and wellbeing, such as healthy eating, mental wellbeing and increasing connection with others in their communities.

Sport Wellington put out this message to healthcare providers:

Green Prescription (GRx) is more than just a referral to discounted gym and swimming opportunities, and we need your help to turn the tide away from that perception. How we engage with individuals is varied, depending on the needs of the communities we serve.

As well as working with groups to improve social connectedness and link participants into local services, a large portion of the service is one-on-one face-to-face engagement. When you are referring to GRx, you are indicating your client is ready to explore what health and wellbeing changes are important to them, and this provides opportunity to work closely with a support worker to realise and support their own solutions for change.

Who is it for?

  • People aged 18 years +
  • Medically stable for low intensity exercise
  • People who are inactive but motivated to make lifestyle changes.

Who can refer?

All healthcare providers – through PMS or via the health professional referral form on the GRx providers website. 

Clinical resources

Green prescriptions(external link) Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora, 2023 Description and regional contacts
The Green Prescription process for primary health care(external link) Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora
Green Prescription resources for health professionals(external link) Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora
Eating and activity guidelines for New Zealand adults(external link) Ministry of Health, NZ, 2020
Active Families(external link) Regional contacts
Green prescription(external link) Regional contacts

Effectiveness of the Green Prescription programmes

Research shows that a Green Prescription (GRx) is an inexpensive way of increasing activity for sedentary people. The Green Prescription Active Families Survey 2018 found that 98% of participants were satisfied with the service, 85% of families were getting more active and 90% were improving their diet.

Green Prescription patient survey(external link) Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora
Key studies into the Green Prescription(external link) Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora

Alternative service for promoting healthy lifestyles

Pae Ora ki Waitaha(external link)  is a healthy lifestyles promotion service developed in consultation with Kaupapa Māori and Pasifika providers to support priority populations to access holistic health improvement programmes in the Canterbury area. 


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Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora

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Credits: Healthify editorial team. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.

Reviewed by: Health Consumer Advisory Member Claudia Johns

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