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People living in rural communities make up at least 15% of the population.
The number rises when rural service centres, such as small towns with 1,000 to 10,000 residents, are included.
Rural communities are integral to the success of our main export earners – the primary industries and tourism.
Many rural communities share challenges associated with their:
- small population
- distance from services
- likely dependence on the primary industries for employment.
Common challenges for rural communities include:
- long travel distances
- social isolation
- attracting and retaining staff
- provision of infrastructure
- land-use change and a changing climate.
The Government's rural communities portfolio recognises the importance of rural communities.
The rural communities work programme aims to help rural people to:
- have a higher quality of life
- have access to social and economic opportunities
- be just as able to reach their potential as urban New Zealanders.
Rural proofing aims to help achieve this. It's about taking challenges faced by the rural sector into account when designing and implementing policies.
Our interactive learning module will show you the steps. The module will help ensure you consider the unique needs of rural communities when developing policies.
It's designed for anyone in a decision-making role who needs to know more about rural proofing – what it is, why it's needed, and how it's done.
The module will take you through a 7-step process for effective rural proofing. The steps include:
- identifying policy objectives and rural stakeholders
- analysing the effects on rural communities
- engaging with rural stakeholders
- identifying ways to mitigate any negative impacts.
In the module, we show you a checklist. You can download the checklist and make a printed copy.
Published research can improve your understanding of rural communities and the issues they face. We've collated some of that research on this page.
Heartland Strong was published in 2019, and provides insights into change and building resilience in rural communities.
Rural users digital connectivity experiences
In 2022-23, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) commissioned independent research on the digital connectivity experiences of people living in rural areas.
The aim of the research was to help better understand the lived experiences of people in rural communities. The report provides insights into the difficulties rural people face in undertaking normal day-to-day activities that people living in towns and cities may not be aware of.
Nuffield and Kellogg Scholar rural research reports
AgResearch's Resilient Rural Communities programme
The Resilient Rural Communities programme is examining the drivers of rural community resilience and ways to support and to enhance this resilience.
National Science Challenges
Statistics New Zealand
Find out how StatsNZ defines the urban and rural populations of New Zealand
The Census Place Summary tool provides census data about New Zealand's urban and rural communities. Topics include population, ethnicity, religion, health, employment, income, education, and housing.
Rural Health Research Network
Established in July 2022, the Rural Health Research Network is building an academic research community for interdisciplinary rural health academics and higher degree students living and working in rural communities.
If you have any questions about rural proofing or want to provide feedback about your experience with our learning module, email OfficeRuralCommunities@mpi.govt.nz