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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 40 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 This was coupled with providers facing cost pressures and outdated service guidelines to support those delivering Heartlands.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.

2023 Heartlands Service Guidelines

In July 2023, MSD implemented new service guidelines to support service delivery of Heartlands by providers and to ensure the new guidelines reflect the mahi our providers undertake. These guidelines enable locally tailored service delivery to ensure communities are receiving a service which is suitable for them, while also ensuring consistency and clarity where needed. These guidelines were created in collaboration with Heartlands providers.

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.

Please send your completed quarterly report to MSD National Contracts Admin Hub at and your Purchasing Agency Relationship Manager listed in Section 8 of your Outcome Agreement (Contract).

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

Heartland reporting is due quarterly as specified in the table below:

Due date (each year)

Period Coverage by the Report

10 October

1 July 20xx – 30 September 20xx

05 December

1 October 20xx – 30 November 20xx

10 April

1 December 20xx – 31 March 20xx

10 July

1 April 20xx – 30 June 20xx

Please note that your Outcome agreement makes it appear that 1 July is the start date for all four reporting periods. Please refer to the periods above when reporting figures for each quarter.

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