Promoting healthy lifestyles

We've developed resources in consultation with the Ministry of Health to assist schools and early childhood education services to promote healthy lifestyles.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Boards
  • Principals and tumuaki
  • Teachers and kaiako
  • Parents, caregivers and whānau

Why promote healthy lifestyles

Research has shown that poor nutrition can be associated with lower academic achievement and poor school attendance.

Teachers report improvements in attendance, attention, behaviour, and levels of concentration in schools and early childhood education services where healthy eating has become accepted practice.

Healthy food and drink guidance and tools

Te Whatu Ora | The Ministry of Health has food and drink guidance for education settings. 

The guidance is available for schools, kura, English and Māori-medium early learning services.

Healthy active learning – Te Whatu Ora(external link)

Become a 'water-only' school

We encourage all schools to become water-only. This means making sure that water (and plain reduced-fat milk) is the only drink in your school.

Schools that have moved to being water-only have seen that it benefits teaching and learning as well as student health and wellbeing.

Water-only schools toolkit – Te Mana Ora

Water-only policy template

Use the following templates to formulate your own water-only policy to share with parents and caregivers.

Smoke-free schools and early learning centres 

Under the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Act 2020, which commenced 11 November 2020, all schools, kura kaupapa Māori, early childhood education centres and kōhanga reo must be smokefree and vapefree indoors and out, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The Act is an amendment to the Smokefree Environments Act 1990 and renamed it the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990.

Education providers must take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure that no person vapes in any part of your school or service, whether inside or outside, at any time of day.


From 11 May 2021, all schools, early childhood education facilities and care centres must, in addition to the existing requirement to display 'no smoking' notices they will be required to display 'no vaping' notices. Smoking and vaping notices can be combined or on separate signage.

You can use the following resources to support, create or review your smoke-free policy. This will ensure your policy will align with requirements under the Smoke-free Environments Act 1990, Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and the National Administration Guideline (NAG) 5.

Vaping and schools – Te Whatu Ora(external link)

Smokefree at school – Smokefree(external link)

Last reviewed: Has this been useful? Give us your feedback