Our region & population
The Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) serves a population of 62,210 (Census 2006, Statistics New Zealand) who live in the Whanganui and Rangitikei Territorial Authority areas, as well as the Ruapehu Territorial Authority area wards of Waimarino and Waiouru – known as South Ruapehu.
 
Our district covers a total land area of 9742 square kilometres, much of which is sparsely populated.  The terrain is mountainous with two major centres - Whanganui city with a population of 39,990 and Marton with a population of 4680.  The major centres are supported by five smaller towns with a population less than 2000 - Waiouru 1380, Taihape 1790, Bulls 1660, Ohakune 1100 and Raetihi 1040. (Census 2006, Statistics New Zealand).
 
Compared to the New Zealand average, the population of Whanganui is characterised by a large percentage of Māori (23 percent), small but growing populations of Pacific and Asian people (2 percent each group), and a relatively large percentage of older people (16 percent).
 
Compared to New Zealand’s 21.5 percent, our district is home to a higher percentage of children and young people, with 22.2 percent under 15 years of age, of which 37 percent are of Māori ethnicity. This reflects the younger Māori population structure as in the rest of the country.
 
Whanganui has a higher than average population of older aged citizens – with 15.7 percent older than 65 years of age (compared to 12.3 percent for the rest of the country in 2006).  It is forecast that in the next 10 years, 20 percent of the Whanganui population will be older than 65 years of age. As older people, like young people, are high healthcare users, this demographic change has significant implications for future provision of health services.
 
The WDHB population profile is changing. There is a projected slow decline in population numbers, whilst at the same time the proportion of people over 65 years old is increasing. 
 
WDHB has no district-specific disability information, but can assume from the National Disability Survey (2001) that overall one in five people have a disability. For the over 65 population, this ratio increases to one in two people. Therefore, in the WDHB area around 12,400 people have a disability, and of these around 5280 people are over 65 years. 
 
The WDHB has a good understanding of the health needs of its population with the key issues having been identified through a comprehensive Health Needs Assessment which was updated in 2008.