“In the 21st century 'health for all' has to be about not just the health of people but also about the the health of other species and ecosystems, especially because for humans to thrive and be healthy we need the natural world around us to be flourishing and healthy.”

– Dr Neil de Wet, Medical Officer of Health

Toi Te Ora Public Health has committed to exploring a Biophilic Public Health approach as one that can support our vision of lifelong health and wellbeing for all.

Biophilic Public Health is underpinned by our commitment to Wai Ora and the core kaupapa of Māori understanding that the health of nature and of people is entwined and interconnected. 

A Biophilic Public Health approach recognises the innate human affinity (or inborn 'love, awe and respect') for nature and that for our physical and mental health and wellbeing we need the natural world to be thriving and healthy, and we need to interact with and experience healthy thriving nature in our daily lives.

Learn more about our Biophilic Public Health development work.

Developing a Biophilic approach to Public Health

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Biophilic Public Health is underpinned by our commitment to Wai Ora and the core kaupapa of Māori understanding that the health of nature and of people is entwined and interconnected. A Biophilic Public Health approach recognises the innate human affinity (or inborn 'love, awe and respect') for nature and that for our physical and mental health and wellbeing we need the natural world to be thriving and healthy, and we need to interact with and experience healthy thriving nature in our daily lives.

Therefore, a biophilic approach to public health brings a focus on how public health initiatives and interventions can be shaped and transformed to produce multiple benefits for the health and wellbeing of people, other species and ecosystems, both directly and indirectly. This is from both a local and global perspective, as well as in the short term and long term for subsequent generations. This means our practice of public health includes concern for current population health issues such as equity, obesity, chronic disease risks and mental health as well as native species, ecosystem health, biodiversity and climate change. In turn, this informs our advice and actions on issues such as urban design, transport, food and nutrition, and how the health of people and nature is promoted and enhanced in the places where we live, learn, work and play. It allows our programmes to implement an ecological model of public health, shaped by the values of love, awe and respect for nature, relevant to today's challenges and issues, and also increasingly aligning with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Dr Neil de Wet, one of our public health physicians and medical officer of health has published the following reports with reference to Biophilic Public Health approaches.


Biophilic Summit - Bay of Plenty & Lakes

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Biophilic Summit explores health for people and nature

Biophilic design,  biophilic cities, re-wilding cities, urban ecological restoration, nurturing nature, nature-based solutions, biomimicry, sustainable food and transport, transforming school outdoor spaces, mātauranga Māori and public health - these were all topics of discussion at the first Bay of Plenty and Lakes Biophilic Summit held in Tauranga on the 20th June.

Organised and hosted by Toi Te Ora Public Health, the theme of this one-day event was 'connecting people with nature' and it brought together leaders, experts and representatives from across the community (such as from local government, education, academia, health, tourism, community groups and Iwi) to discuss and develop our understanding of biophilic thinking and about how adopting biophilic approaches in the Bay of Plenty and Lakes can provide benefits for people, nature and the planet.

“In the 21st century 'health for all' has to be about not just the health of people but also about the the health of other species and ecosystems, especially because for humans to thrive and be healthy we need the natural world around us to be flourishing and healthy,” says Dr Neil de Wet, Medical Officer of Health. “Biophilic thinking is about love, awe and respect for nature, and is giving us new ideas, insights and examples from around the country and around the world that give real hope about how our cities and the places where we live, learn, work and play can be re-imagined and re-designed to be places that care for the health and wellbeing of people as well as other species and ecosystems."

For more information and to read speaker bios and watch presentations see further below.

Dr Neil de Wet presents ‘Biophilic Public Health: re-imagining health for people and planet’ at the Biophilic Summit.

Biophilic Summit - Speakers and Presentations

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Hosted by Toi Te Ora Public Health, the public health service for Bay of Plenty and Lakes District Health Board on Thursday 20th June 2019 at Tauranga Yacht Club

  • See below for the presentation videos and speaker bios.
  • View the printable version of the programme here.


Proceedings - Videos

Click on the presentation title link to watch the speaker's presentation at the summit. 



Professor Tim Beatley

Biophilic Cities: Cities that love nature

Dr Neil de Wet

Biophilic Public Health: re-imagining health for people and planet

Graham Bidois Cameron

Ngā tapuwae o Tāne Mahuta

Dr Jana Soderlund

Integrating nature and the built environment through biophilic design

Professor Bruce Clarkson

Bringing nature back into New Zealand towns and cities

Dr Maibritt Pedersen Zari

Biophilic urbanism: Mapping and designing nature experiences in cities

Geoff Canham

Society's relationship with nature - playing to our strengths as a species

Te Rangikaheke Kiripatea and Jasmin Jackson

Kai Rotorua: Reconnecting whānau to Papatūānuku through kai

Erin Green and Hannah Simmonds

Te Puna Taio: Healthy, resilient tamariki and communities through transformed school spaces

Dr Julianna Lees and Anahera Waru

The future of food: a biophilic approach for a healthier world


Speaker Bios


Professor Tim Beatley

Biophilic Cities

Dr. Tim Beatley is the Teresa Heinz Professor of Sustainable Communities, in the Department of Urban and Environmental Planning, School of Architecture at the University of Virginia, where he has taught for the last twenty-five years. Much of Beatley’s work focuses on the subject of sustainable communities, and creative strategies by which cities and towns can fundamentally reduce their ecological footprints, while at the same time becoming more livable and equitable places. Beatley believes that sustainable and resilient cities represent our best hope for addressing today’s environmental challenges.

Beatley is the author or co-author of more than fifteen books on these subjects, including Green Urbanism: Learning from European Cities (recently translated into Chinese), Habitat Conservation Planning, Native to Nowhere: Sustaining Home and Community in a Global Age, and Planning for Coastal Resilience.

See also:


Dr Jana Soderlund

Curtin University

An early career in environmental science, population and world resources, evolved to an interest in sustainability and urban design. Since completing her PhD in Biophilic Urban Design, Jana has been active as a biophilic designer, presenter, educator, and academic author.

She is a member of the global Biophilic Cities steering committee, chair of Biophilic Cities Australia, Director of Biophilic Solutions and Design by Nature, and Director of Green Roofs Australasia.

Professor Bruce Clarkson

University of Waikato

Professor Bruce Clarkson is a restoration ecologist interested in habitat restoration to bring indigenous nature back into towns and cities based at the University of Waikato in Hamilton. He leads a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment funded research programme: People, Cities and Nature: restoring indigenous nature in urban environments.

In 2016 he received the Royal Society of New Zealand Charles Fleming medal for environmental achievement for his efforts to advance and communicate understanding of conservation efforts in terrestrial, freshwater and urban environments, and support effective on-the-ground restoration practice.

He is a board member of the Australasian chapter of the International Society for Ecological Restoration, on the Governance Group for the Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities National Science Challenge, and is ambassador for the New Zealand's Biological Heritage National Science Challenge.


Ko Tainui te waka, ko Waikato te awa, ko Wharepuhunga te maunga, ko Raukawa te iwi, ko Ngāti Huri te hapū, ko Pikitu te marae.

Hannah Simmonds is an educator with over 10 years experience teaching in secondary schools in New Zealand and overseas.  She currently provides professional learning and development support for school leaders and teachers in early childhood, primary and secondary schools. She has a Science Degree and Graduate Teaching Diploma, and is studying towards her Masters in Indigenous Studies. Hannah wants to support teachers, leaders and communities to see the potential in working together to ensure better outcomes for all tamariki.  She is passionate about maximising opportunities for Te Ao Māori to inform mainstream education, so that Māori tamariki can experience more equitable outcomes.

Hannah has three children with her partner Brad and they live in sunny Whakatāne.

See also:


Erin Green
Co-Founder and Trustee, Te Puna Taiao

Erin Green is co-founder of Te Puna Taiao. She was brought up in Piopio and has a Master’s degree in Marine Science and an undergraduate degree with a double major in Psychology and Zoology. Erin has worked for many years for central government in environmental and social policy areas such as community-led marine management, biosecurity, and refugee and migrant resettlement. She is passionate about reducing inequity in our communities, looking after amazing natural world, and helping to build communities that provide the right environment for each child to reach their full potential.

Erin came up with the idea for the Te Puna Taiao kaupapa after her second child started school and she saw the opportunity to transform schools into beautiful, natural, culturally-connected places in the lives of our kids and communities.

Erin lives in Whakatāne with her partner and their four young children.

Eugene Berryman-Kamp, B.M.S, CMInstD

Chief Executive Officer, Te Arawa River Iwi Trust

Of Ngati Kea Ngati Tuara, Ngati Whakaue, Ngati Pukeko and Ngati Manawa descent, I was raised in Rotorua by my grandparents and attended St Michaels primary school and Edmund Rice college, where I was Dux and deputy head boy. I graduated from Waikato University with a Bachelor of Management Studies and have worked locally and globally in multinational sales, marketing and market research roles. My wife Tina and our tamariki Rawiri, Mikaere, Maia and I returned to Rotorua in 2003, where I have mostly worked in the health and iwi development sectors.  I was CEO of Health Rotorua Primary Health Organisation and have worked as a portfolio manager and also a Maori health project manager for Lakes District Health Board. I am currently CEO for Te Arawa River Iwi Trust, a post treaty settlement iwi environmental agency involved in the restoration of the Waikato river.

A chartered member of the Institute of Directors, I am on the boards of Korowai Aroha Health Centre, Te Rau Matatini Ltd (Maori Mental Health and Addictions workforce centre), Pakihi BK Ltd, QE Health Ltd and TARIT Holdings Ltd. I am an elected member representing pan Te Arawa entities on the Te Tatau Te Arawa partnership board and sit on the Rotorua Lakes Council Strategy, Policy and Finance Committee.

With whatever time is left over I enjoy long distance motorcycle riding, being a Te Arawa waka taua kaihoe, Maori triathlons, mountain biking and am a semi decent trout fisherman, even if I say so myself.



Dr Maibritt Pedersen Zari

Senior Lecturer and Deputy Head of School

School of Architecture, Victoria University of Wellington

Dr Pedersen Zari is a Senior Lecturer and Deputy Head of School at Victoria University of Wellington’s School of Architecture. Her research seeks to redefine sustainable architecture and urban design through mimicking ecosystems, changing the goals from sustainable to regenerative development, and integrating complex social and psychological factors into sustainable architectural design. Dr Pedersen Zari’s expertise include: biophilic urban and architectural design, biomimicry and architecture, nature-based solutions, and urban biodiversity. She has worked with the United Nations (ESCAP) and other international research groups in seeking to improve urban climate change resilience in the Pacific and is the author of ‘Regenerative Urban Design and Ecosystem Biomimicry’ which was published in 2018.


Ko Mauao te maunga
Ko Te Awanui te moana
Ko Takitimu te waka
Ko Nāgti Ranginui te iwi
Nō te Pirirākau ahau,
Pai Marire ki a tātou.

I am in the Pou Tikanga for the Bay of Plenty District Health Board. In this role I am guided by our 18 iwi in the Bay of Plenty in supporting staff to integrate tikanga and kawa into services and leading the ongoing education and development of Māori models and practice. The Pou Tikanga supports the board and the senior management in striving the relational aspirations in te Tiriti o Waitangi.

I have spent a decade in iwi and hapū leadership in Tauranga Moana and live on our turangawaewae in Te Puna with my wife and four tamariki. I am passionate about reinvigorating the stories that connect us with our place and the identity and belonging those stories provide, so central to our hauora as a community. Our Pirirākau hapū are active kaitiaki of our whenua, many years spent defending the green wedge we maintain between a burgeoning Tauranga city and Ōmokoroa.

Heoi anō,
Graham Bidois Cameron
Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāti Hinerangi, Ngāti Rangiwēwehi


Dr Neil de Wet

Medical Officer of Health, Toi Te Ora Public Health

Dr Neil de Wet is a public health medicine specialist and Medical Officer of Health for the Bay of Plenty and Lakes districts in New Zealand. After completing his medical training, and working in a variety of clinical specialties, he went on to do a masters degree in environmental science and spent several years working in the area of climate change and health research in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, before completing his specialist training in public health medicine.

His interests include environmental health, ecology and health, the control and prevention of infectious diseases, childhood obesity prevention, and risk communication. A more recent focus has been drawing on ideas and concepts of biophilic design and biophilic cities to understand and explore how biophilic thinking can inform and transform public health theory and practice.

See also:


Dr Julianna Lees

Public Health Medicine Registrar, Toi Te Ora Public Health

I grew up in Tauranga and now live in the beautiful Bay of Plenty again, with my husband and our two girls, close to our extended whānau. I work as a Public Health Medicine registrar at Toi Te Ora Public Health. I completed my undergraduate medical degree and later my Master of Public Health at the University of Auckland. After graduating from medical school I worked all around New Zealand, from Whangarei to Dunedin. I chose to train in Public Health Medicine because of my growing frustration in clinical medicine seeing a significant amount of preventable illness and suffering. I am in the final year of my specialist training with the New Zealand College of Public Health Medicine (NZCPHM). I have previously worked for Community and Public Health in Canterbury and Waikato DHB Strategy and Funding. I am a member of the NZCPHM Education and Training committee and was a member of the NZCPHM policy committee for three years.

My interests include food and nutrition, equity of health outcomes, mental wellbeing and sustainability. I am passionate about creating a healthy, inclusive and fair society for our children and grandchildren.


Robert McGowan JP (M.Soc.Sc. Waikato)

Rob McGowan lives in Welcome Bay, Tauranga and is married to Lyndel Crisp. They have one daughter, Ella Mae.

Rob currently works for the Department of Conservation (DOC) and is the Amo Aratu for Nga Whenua Rahui (NWR), a contestable Ministerial fund established in 1991 to provide funding for the protection of indigenous ecosystems on Māori land.

Rob is one of the foremost authorities on rongoā Māori (traditional Māori medicine) and is well respected nationally for his work with and for the restoration of rongoā Māori practice in New Zealand. He has been involved for more than 20 years in teaching, researching and assisting Māori re-engage in traditional uses of NZ native plants, particularly for medicine (rongoā Māori).  Rob was a regular presenter on Māori Television’s “Kiwi Maara” and “Maara Kai” programs sharing his vast knowledge on rongoā Māori with the New Zealand public.  He is author of “Rongoā Māori – a practical guide to traditional Māori Medicine” (2009).

Rob was the founding Chair of the Kaimai-Mamaku Catchments Forum which is focused on the improvement of the health of the Kaimai and Mamaku Ranges and its catchments to provide for this and coming generations.

He also provide input into aspects of intellectual property issues relating to the Waitangi Tribunal’s Wai 262 report and serves as a rongoā Māori advisor to numerous Government committees, Māori tribal authorities and for a number of rongoā Māori related research and education initiatives.

In his current work he is part of DOC’s project to build a bridge between Western Science and Matauranga Māori (traditional Māori knowledge) in conservation management.

Rob is one of the founders of Tane’s Tree Trust a non-profit charitable trust that was established more than 10 years ago to encourage  New Zealand landowners to successfully plant and sustainably manage indigenous trees for multiple uses. He remains an active Trustee.

Rob has been a long time member of the Bay of Plenty Conservation Board and past Chairman. For many years he was also engaged by the University of Waikato as Continuing Education Officer.

He is a former Catholic priest and a fluent speaker of te reo Māori.


Geoff Canham

Geoff Canham Consulting

Geoff is a Principal Parks and Recreation Specialist and Accredited Parks and Recreation Professional (ARPro). Geoff runs GCC, a specialist parks and recreation consultancy. Geoff has 36 years’ experience in parks agency/ local government parks and recreation with New Zealand and international experience in parks and recreation leadership, planning and project management.
Geoff has given over 15 Conference presentations in New Zealand, Australia and the U.S, has had over 10 articles published and is the recipient of two NZRA industry awards.

Geoff currently volunteers on the Taitua Arboretum Advisory Group, the Maungatautiri Reserve Committee and convenes the New Zealand Parks Agencies Managers Group. Geoff has performed the role of industry mentor for the NZRA and an international Peer Reviewer for Parks Agencies. Geoff has held two Chair roles for strategic and regional roles for NZRA (formerly the chair for the NZRA National Peer Review Panel and formerly the chair for the Regional Advisory Group (to advise the NZRA Board)) and is the current Chair of the Industry Accreditation Board for the NZRA. Geoff was also the NZRA Central Region chairman for 17 years. In 2013 Geoff was awarded the Ian Galloway Memorial Cup for Excellence and Outstanding Contribution to the Wider Parks Industry.

See also:



Te Rangikaheke Kiripatea

Kai Rotorua Committee - Project Lead, Kai Rotorua

Mai Maketū ki Tongariro ...
Ko Te Arawa te waka
Ko Te Arawa māngai-nui ūpoko tū-takitaki

From Maketu to Tongariro
Te Arawa the canoe
Te Arawa the determined people

My Dad was born on Mokoia Island in 1889 where his whanau and hapu grew kumara, other crops including rua kumara for storage purposes.  Matuatonga, stone carved image, mauri of the cultivations is said to have arrived on Te Arawa waka and placed on Mokoia where it has been since.

After moving off Mokoia to Pikirangi on the Eastern shores where my Dad had extensive ancestral land interests he cultivated a large maara kai growing kumara, riwai, kanga, kamokamo and watermelon.

I never thought I would follow in my Dad's footsteps growing kai or with such a passion. Never. But I have.

Before I retired in 2012 I did volunteer work mainly maara kai firstly at one of my marae, Rangiteaoarere, Ohinemutu Community Gardens, Hannah's Bay Restoration Community, Linton Park Community Gardens, Rotorua Youth CentreMy Backyard Garden Project, Hillcrest Community Garden, Linton Park Community (kumara trials) and growing kumara and riwai at Te Pueae Orchard, Tikitere.

On my mother's side, Rongomaiwahine ki Kahungunu. Rongomaiwahine, our rangatira/mana wahine and Kahungunu two iwi also well known for maara kai with my maternal koroua and kuia Te Nuia Makoare and Te Kahakaha Pohatu having strong ancestral links also to the whenua and moana.

I am a committee member for Kai Rotorua a non-profit, volunteer organisation whose our Purpose is Reconnecting People to Papatuanuku through Kai.  Our Vision is to create a more resilient, well nourished, well connected community.

And I am Project Lead for our Food Hub Living Building Challenge a multi-million dollar investment for Rotorua.


Jasmin Jackson

Health Improvement Advisor, Toi Te Ora Public Health

As well as being a Health Improvement Advisor for Toi Te Ora Public Health, Jasmin is also the founder of Ka Pai Kai Rotorua, an equitable school lunch service, and Kai Rotorua, Rotorua’s local food network. 

Jasmin is a Registered Nutritionist with special interest in sustainable food systems, food resilience, and environmentally responsible diets.  She has an endless passion for food that is good for people, animals and the planet. Her work on the development of a Food Hub for Kai Rotorua introduced her to the concept of biophilic design and the Living Building Challenge, which is the gold standard in regenerative design and building design for human and planetary health.


James Hughes

Climate and Resilience Specialist, Tonkin + Taylor

James has an 18-year career in the infrastructure and environmental sectors, and works for engineering and environmental specialists, Tonkin and Taylor.  He works across a broad range of sectors - from to natural hazard resilience, sustainability and climate change, as well as work within the three-waters: of water, stormwater and wastewater.  He has a particular interest in integrated water sensitive design and the role that this can play in contributing to liveable, resilient and bio-diverse urban environments.

He was part of MfE’s recent Climate Change Adaptation Technical Working Group, and has been involved in a range of projects relating to climate and natural hazard risk. These include: current research for the Deep South Science Challenge on wastewater and stormwater systems, LGNZ’s sea level rise exposure survey and a range of studies looking at climate change impacts. He was also involved with broader programmes such as the Rockefeller ‘100 Resilient Cites programme’, and the UN’s ‘10 Essentials of Resilient Cities’.

James is a certified practitioner/verifier of the ISCA (Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australasia) Rating tool. This is a sustainability assessment tool which provides a vehicle for consistent application and evaluation of sustainability in construction projects, and helps in scoping whole-of-life sustainability risks for projects and assets – ultimately enabling smarter solutions that reduce risks and costs, and benefit the planet.

See also:



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Take a look at these websites to learn more about biophilic ideas and approaches.


Also take a look at these websites of interest.

  • Half-Earth project - Biophilic Cities has partnered with the Half Earth project.
  • Te Puna Taiao - Healthy, resilient tamariki and communities through transformed outdoor spaces



The sourcebook directory for integrating health and urban territorial planning - World Health Organization (includes reference and link to Biophilic Public Health, under the Resources tab, row 129).

The sourcebook directory is an online repository of resources and tools that provide information about the importance of planning and designing urban areas from a health perspective. It is intended to be useful for public health practitioners and stakeholders involved in urban planning and design, to support their work towards developing healthy urban environments.

“Biophilic thinking is about love, awe and respect for nature, and is giving us new ideas, insights and examples from around the country and around the world that give real hope about how our cities and the places where we live, learn, work and play can be re-imagined and re-designed to be places that care for the health and wellbeing of people as well as other species and ecosystems.”

– Dr Neil de Wet, Medical Officer of Health