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Supporting rural communities - Heartland Services

It can be harder for people who live in rural communities to get the right support when they need it.

Around 14% of New Zealanders live in rural areas and rural community services are often the only way for clients in isolated areas to access a broad range of support services.

MSD funds a range of providers to deliver Heartlands to whānau residing in rural and isolated communities across Aotearoa. Heartlands was first established in 2001 and has since naturally evolved to handle the growing needs of whānau based in these areas.

There are currently 23 Heartlands sites across the motu, predominantly being delivered by non-government agencies. Heartlands providers have an in-depth understanding of the unique needs, challenges and opportunities of their respective communities and have developed locally responsive ways of connecting whanau to the services they need. Heartlands also provides a physical space or hub for people to connect and safely access community and government services, kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face), in the rural regions.

A 2019 review of Heartlands highlighted the challenges faced by whānau residing rurally in finding and/or getting the right government or social support when they need it. This was coupled with providers facing cost pressures and outdated service guidelines to support those delivering Heartlands.

Future direction for Heartlands

Following the 2019 review, Heartlands received funding in Budget 2020 of $19.8 million over four years to address cost pressures for providers and undergo a process of service redesign for Heartlands. This investment will allow MSD to make key improvements to Heartlands including:

  • updating the Heartlands service guidelines
  • addressing cost pressures by updating the funding model
  • implementing new Heartlands sites across the motu to increase the reach into more rural communities across Aotearoa.

The Heartlands vision is to ensure people and whānau in rural and isolated communities have equitable access to government and community services. Success for Heartlands will look like:

  • equitable access to services
  • Government and non-government sectors collaborating to service the needs of rural and isolated communities
  • locally responsive Heartlands providers that are sustainably resourced to respond to the needs of their communities, while building their capability.

Breakdown of funding

Heartlands funding is baselined from F2024.

Funding type

F21 ($m)

F22 ($m)

F23 ($m)

F24 ($m)

4-year total ($m)

Service delivery






Design, implementation and evaluation












If you have any questions relating to Heartlands, please contact or check out our Heartlands website.

Provider reporting

Providers use an MSD-provided Reporting Template (an Excel spreadsheet) to submit their reporting to MSD.

The Reporting Template and instructions for providers are available to download here:

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