About HAPINZ 3.0

The HAPINZ 3.0 study investigated the impact that air pollution has on New Zealanders' health. The study was carried out by a team of researchers from several organizations, led by Dr Gerda Kuschel (Emission Impossible Ltd).  

This section describes some key features of the HAPINZ 3.0 study.  More details can be found in the publications on the Explore publications and data page.

Why was the HAPINZ 3.0 study carried out?

Clean air is vital for human health and wellbeing.  New Zealand has good air quality in most places, most of the time. 

However, domestic fires and motor vehicle emissions produce unacceptable air quality in some places – particularly during winter and along major roads.  Understanding how much air pollution people are experiencing (ie exposure) is important to understanding potential health impacts.

In 2019, an update of the previous Health and Air Pollution in New Zealand (HAPINZ) study was commissioned by the Ministry for the Environment and Waka Kotahi (in partnership with Te Manatū Waka Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Health).  This work, HAPINZ 3.0, aimed to update the air pollution health effects experienced by New Zealanders for 2016.  This information will also help to inform the national standards for air quality.

HAPINZ 3.0 focuses on the health impacts of the two most important air pollutants in New Zealand: fine particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide. Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is very small particles in the air, less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter.  The main human-made sources of PM2.5 in New Zealand are domestic fires (wood and coal fires for home heating), motor vehicles, wind-blown dust and industry.  Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is a gas in the air.  In New Zealand, most human-made NO2 comes from motor vehicles.

Aims of the HAPINZ 3.0 study

The HAPINZ 3.0 study aimed to update and extend the HAPINZ model developed in 2012, for a base year of 2016.

The updated HAPINZ study aimed to address the following:

  • Pollutants: PM2.5, PM10 and NO2
  • Sources of air pollution considered: domestic fires, vehicle emissions, wind-blown dust, industry, and natural sources (sea spray / soil)
  • Health outcomes: premature death, hospitalisations, restricted activity days, years of life lost, asthma
  • Costs: social costs of air pollution
  • Impacts: assessed at the national, regional, territorial authority and airshed level
  • Investigate the impact on the total population, and on Māori and Pacific peoples.

Methodology overview

The HAPINZ 3.0 comprehensively assessed the health impacts of air pollution in New Zealand in 2016.  The following are features of the study.

  • Year: The study results are for the year 2016 (the most recent year of data available when the study was being carried out).  Most air quality, health and population data for the study were averaged over 2015–2017.
  • Air pollutants: Exposure to particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) were assessed and/or modelled at the census area unit (CAU) 2013 level.
  • Sources of air pollution: Air pollution was attributed to sources, based on source apportionment ‘fingerprints’.  PM2.5 was attributed to domestic fires, motor vehicles, industry, and wind-blown dust (as well as the natural sources of sea spray and secondary PM).  NO2 was assumed to be due to motor vehicles only.
  • Health effects considered: The following health effects were included in the analysis, based on robust evidence of being caused by PM2.5 and/or NO2: premature death (excluding external causes), cardiovascular hospitalisations, respiratory hospitalisations, asthma (NO2 only), restricted activity days (PM2.5 only).
  • Health and population data: Incidence data for the health effects above were obtained at the CAU level for 2015–17, using health data from the Ministry of Health.  Population data for 2016 were obtained from Stats NZ.
  • Calculating the impact of air pollution on health: We used an 'environmental burden of disease' approach to calculate the population attributable fraction (PAF) in each CAU - that is, to identify what proportion of health outcomes were due to air pollution in each CAU.
  • Regional outputs: The number of deaths/hospitalisations etc, due to air pollution were aggregated nationally and by region, territorial authority, airshed, and health sector district (formerly known as District Health Board).
  • Comparisons with 2006: The same approach as above was used to also estimate the health impacts of air pollution in 2006 (based on air quality, health and population data for 2005–07).  Comparisons were only possible for overall human-made PM2.5 and NO2, and were not able to be broken down by source.

For more information about the study methodology, see the following reports:

Health and Air Pollution in New Zealand 2016 (HAPINZ 3.0): Volume 1 – Findings and implications (pdf, 1.1MB)

Health and Air Pollution in New Zealand 2016 (HAPINZ 3.0): Volume 2 – Detailed methodology (pdf, 5.1MB)

The HAPINZ 3.0 project team

 This project was carried out by a team of researchers led by Gerda Kuschel (Emission Impossible Ltd).  The full project team included:

  • Dr Gerda Kuschel, Jayne Metcalfe and Surekha Sridhar (Emission Impossible Ltd)
  • Kylie Mason (EHINZ, Massey University)
  • Dr Perry Davy (GNS Science)
  • Keith Hastings (Jacobs Ltd)
  • Dr Tim Denne (Resource Economics Ltd)
  • Prof Alistair Woodward (University of Auckland)
  • Prof Simon Hales and June Atkinson (University of Otago)
  • Dr Jess Berentson-Shaw and Dr Sharon Bell (The Workshop).

The research was funded by the Ministry for the Environment, Ministry of Health, Te Manatū Waka Ministry of Transport, and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.

The project team were supported by the HAPINZ 3.0 Steering Committee, which included:

  • Drew Bingham, Co-chair (Ministry for the Environment)
  • Shelley Easton and Christine Moore, Co-chairs (Waka Kotahi)
  • Greg Haldane and Janet Petersen (Waka Kotahi)
  • Iain McGlinchy and Daisy Cadigan (Te Manatū Waka Ministry of Transport)
  • Sonja Miller (Stats NZ)
  • Suz Halligan (Ministry of Health)
  • Tim Mallett and Tamsin Mitchell (National Air Quality Working Group).

The study has been extensively peer-reviewed by international experts.

Previous HAPINZ studies

HAPINZ 3.0 updates previous HAPINZ studies, using the latest monitoring data and methods.

The first comprehensive study of air pollution health effects in New Zealand was the Health and Air Pollution in New Zealand (HAPINZ 1.0) study. HAPINZ 1.0 was undertaken by Fisher et al (2007) for a base year of 2001.

This work was later updated by Kuschel et al (2012) (HAPINZ 2.0) for a base year of 2006. This study reflected the more comprehensive monitoring of air quality being undertaken across New Zealand. This increase in monitoring was due to a new national environmental standard for ambient particulate matter (PM10) concentrations introduced in September 2005 (MfE 2011).

HAPINZ 3.0 updates these studies and incorporates the latest data and methods.  For the first time, the health impacts of NO2 have been assessed.

For more information about the HAPINZ studies and to download publications, see Explore publications and data.


Fisher G et al. 2007. Health and Air Pollution in New Zealand: Main Report. Research report
prepared by G Fisher, T Kjellstrom, S Kingham, S Hales, R Shrestha and others for Health Research
Council of New Zealand, Ministry for the Environment, and Ministry of Transport. Auckland, NZ.

Kuschel G et al. 2012. Updated Health and Air Pollution in New Zealand Study. Various reports and
models prepared by G Kuschel, J Metcalfe, E Wilton, J Guria, S Hales, K Rolfe and A Woodward
for Health Research Council of New Zealand, Ministry for the Environment, Ministry of Transport
and New Zealand Transport Agency, March 2012.

MfE. 2011. Resource Management (National Environmental Standards for Air Quality) Regulations
2004 plus 2011 Amendment Regulations. NZ Government, NZ, June 2011.

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