Amy Milne |

Winter is coming and Hato Hone St John is encouraging people to focus on prioritising winter wellness to avoid becoming seriously ill over the colder months.

Dr Damian Tomic, Hato Hone St John Deputy Chief Executive Clinical Services, says everyone can do their bit to stay on top of their physical and mental wellbeing to keep themselves and their whānau well throughout the year.

“Help us to help you and your whānau this winter by doing all you can to remain healthy throughout the year,” Dr Tomic says.

“Preventing serious illness this winter can start by getting your flu vaccination and COVID-19 boosters on time, keeping on top of other medications, eating healthy, exercising and getting enough sleep.”

Dr Tomic says practising the healthy habits we learnt during the pandemic, like staying home and taking a Covid-19 test if you do become unwell, regular handwashing, sneezing and coughing into your elbow and social distancing will also go a long way towards staying well and protecting those around you.

"It’s also a good idea to wear a face mask when using public transport, when in indoor settings such as shops and supermarkets or when it is hard to physically distance from other people.

“These practical and simple steps play a big part in limiting the spread of infection,” he says.

Taking charge of keeping well will also help ease pressure on the wider health system.

“Hospitals, GPs, the ambulance sector and other community health providers continue to face ongoing prolonged increased demand for services, which are only expected to increase as the cold and flu season takes hold. Our incredible health workforce is under pressure and limiting the spread of infection will make a real difference in making sure that the health system can provide the right care, in the right place, to those that need it this winter.” Dr Tomic says.

He says Hato Hone St John has initiatives in place to reduce pressure on the ambulance and wider health system and is working collaboratively with Te Whatu Ora to raise public awareness of the range of medical care options for common winter illnesses.

“While we’re taking steps to help the communities who need us this winter, it’s also important for whānau to have a plan in place for when there is sickness in the household. Thinking about things like do you have people you can rely upon for support. Creating a winter wellness kete can help get you through.

“This might include paracetamol and ibuprofen, a thermometer, tissues, cold and flu medications, enough food and household items for a few days, and a good stock of the regular medicines you or your whānau will need.”

Dr Tomic says should you or your whānau become unwell, most people should be able to manage at home by resting, keeping up their fluids and taking paracetamol or ibuprofen.

Keeping your home warm and dry is also important for staying well. The Healthy Homes web page has good tips and information about insulation funding through the Warmer Kiwi Homes programme.

“And don’t forget that winter can also affect our moods and for some it can become quite debilitating - this is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder.

“For people affected by recent weather events this year, your moods are probably already low, so make sure you seek help early if it’s getting all a bit too much.”

Get help online at www.depression.org.nz or www.SPARX.org.nz

If you need health advice, call Healthline for free 24/7 on 0800-611-116 to speak with a registered nurse or call your general practice. If you’re struggling to breathe or it’s an emergency call 111.


  • Hato Hone St John provides emergency ambulance services to 90 percent of New Zealanders and covers 97 percent of the country’s geographical area.
  • Hato Hone St John is made up of a mix of full-time paid employees and volunteer staff.
  • Hato Hone St John has contracts with Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand and ACC who fund approximately 90 percent of the operating costs for the ambulance service. The balance on what is required to run the service is made up from ambulance part charges, third-party contracts, and fundraising.
  • Along with the emergency ambulance service, Hato Hone St John provides a significant number of community health programmes and initiatives which help build community resilience. They include Health Shuttles, Caring Caller, Friends of the Emergency Department, St John Youth, ASB St John in Schools, and Therapy Pets.
  • Hato Hone St John also delivers event health services, medical alarm services, first aid training and operates retail stores across the country.


Amy Milne | Her/She
External Communications Specialist
Hato Hone St John | Aotearoa New Zealand

M 027 502 7523
E amy.milne@stjohn.org.nz

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