Geographic Classification for Health - Feedback


The Universities of Otago and Waikato are seeking feedback from rural health professionals on proposed versions of a Geographic Classification for Health. 

The team says there are currently more than fifteen different ways of classifying rural and urban areas in New Zealand’s health data, none of them specifically designed for the purpose. This results in a confusing picture that may be masking genuine differences in health outcomes and access to services for rural New Zealanders.

The team are working on a fit for purpose classification, using a formula based on StatsNZ population and drive time data.

The classification needs to ‘make sense on the ground’.  We have mapped 3 potential versions. We are keen to know which of the versions best reflects increasing degrees on rurality wrt to health in the part of the country you know best. The first version is the unmodified  StatisticsNZ urban rural classification and version 2 and 3 are versions we have created based on different formulae.

North and South Island comparison maps

If you have any feedback on which of the versions ‘work best’ in your area then please email

Remember, no model is perfect but some are more useful and we are looking for the ‘best fit’. The purpose of the classification is to provide a consistent and accurate way of identifying urban vs rural differences in health data. This may then inform the more equitable allocation of health resources but the classification is not in itself a formula for resource allocation. This would depend on the type of resource being allocated. 

If you want to look at the classification in more depth, including the rationale and formula used, view this page.