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The quality of housing in Waiouru, coupled with the cold winters and the costs of heating houses was considered to impact on residents’ health:

"I don’t know what the stats are for like asthma, but I do know that our houses aren’t particularly warm for our young children. Yes, we’ve got fireplaces and I think some of the houses are getting heat pumps and while you can heat them, it’s really expensive. You don’t have access to cheap firewood. It can cost $1500 a year for firewood because we have to run our fires from March through to December. So, if you're on one in income, it's very hard. We all know we should have firewood. That's a consistent thing I see is families struggling to heat their home."
"Not even families, everyone. It's very expensive. I buy about $1200 of firewood every year. But what I do, is I've actually worked it out it's cheaper to run the heat pump during the week than for me to actually buy firewood. Then I light the fire on the weekends but I still spend about $1200 a year to run my fire on the weekends."
"I think that has an effect on children. You've got all the houses, single glazing, it's cold here! Bitterly."
"The kids catch the flu all the time. "

It was also noted that ‘bugs’ can affect the town significantly due to the interconnectedness of the community:

"One thing that kind of shook me when I first moved to Waiouru was the fact of like, gastro bugs that go through this community so quick. Because of that close living with army. So, you still see bugs go around. And when it hits, it hits the whole town. It's like, when you think about it, if all the recruits have it then soon the cleaners have it, then grandchildren get it and it's all through the school. Those that work in camp bring it home. And it really smashes the whole community."
"The whole community is connected so if one gets it, all get it. On Tuesday or Thursday otherwise you’ve got to go to Whanganui. Which is pretty frustrating for children.”

While it was considered that mental health services and support for NZDF personnel and their families was adequate, it was felt that there was a need for better mental health services for the wider community.

"I think that defence take pretty good care of their own in that regard. There is any number of services and for partners and families as well. but I think if you're not Defence you might struggle a little bit more. In my limited experience people who have got more serious issues, the support services from Taihape or Whanganui are lacking."
"So many people here don’t have that family support around them. "

While it was considered that there was not a large elderly population in Waiouru that had significant health needs, it was observed that there were nevertheless some older, potentially more vulnerable members of the community.

"There actually is, but a lot of the time they kind of get forgotten about. So, I know of two elderly people, but you know, like, I quite often think to myself, I wonder if they've got enough firewood? They're not retired, they still have to work. But I think about old (redacted) and even (redacted) and stuff like that. "
"I know (redacted) struggles."
"And I've got (redacted) and (redacted) next to me."
"Some are still working, but they are vulnerable."
"I quite often see on Facebook, like when they have donated two loads of firewood to a family I often think, has anyone actually thought about our poor old people? They can't get out and do firewood. A lot of them don't have family here. They're on their own."
"Some of them are so shy, eh? They won’t say anything. "

These members of the community were also considered to be proportionately more isolated from health services:

"For those people, as well, access to health services, so being able to catch the shuttle or get to doctor's appointments or whatever is also the challenge. Some of them have good networks and they can tap in to, you know, us or their neighbour to get to appointments, but that leaves them feeling vulnerable as well."

Non-military personnel access primary health care services in Taihape or Raetihi. In 2020, participants noted that the NZDF medical facility in camp was available to NZDF civilian personnel under certain criteria, though this was not mentioned in 2023 where it was explained that only uniformed personnel could access health services with the Camp. However, the weekly clinic held in Waiouru staffed by a doctor and a nurse from Taihape remained a valued service for the non-military population. Quality of primary care services was considered good; however concerns were raised around increasing wait times for appointments and the increased use of locums. Primary care was considered affordable relative to other areas.

"Taihape, some of them will go to Raetihi. We used to have a Medical Centre here for civilians, um... but we kept losing our doctors so..."
"They come up once a week, on Wednesdays."
"Taihape you can get in and see the doctor. But it's becoming... whereas before you could get an appointment within a week, now you're up to three weeks, sometimes four weeks."
"They will do it over the phone now. Phone consults. But those are also taking longer to get."
"It does take a long time."
"Like everywhere, I guess."
"Yes, I suppose."
"We're lucky we've got one doctor who has been with us for quite a while in Taihape. She's good. And you get really good care, but then sometimes you get locums which may give you really good care but if you’ve got serious health issues, which some of our community has, you need that continuity with that one doctor and you just don't get that."
"You get that though in a lot of places. I go to Raetihi, and I know it's just like, lucky dip. Pretty much, you never know who you might get."
"And the cost to see the doctor here is pretty cheap so we're lucky in that way. Yeah, I think the cost is really good because the I think all of the Ruapehu Region that come under Whanganui Health Board get good subsidies. When I lived in Palmy for a while and went to the doctor there it cost me at the time, I think it was $57. I transferred back here and it was costing me would it be $18 now? Much more affordable."

Participants were concerned about waiting times for ambulances in the case of emergencies:

"An ambulance could take an hour and a half coming from Taihape or 'Kune. They could come from different directions. We used to have one here, St Johns here, until not that long ago. It was realigned."
"I think the last one that we called came from Marton because all the other ones were busy so one came from Marton."

Participants were not entirely sure how local people accessed maternity services.

"I’m not sure actually, it must be Raetihi?"
"Everyone I’ve worked with it’s been Taihape. Taihape you can do the birth there. But only Monday to Friday. In the weekends you've got to go to Whanganui. You don't have a baby on the weekends here."

In terms of secondary and specialist care, residents of Waiouru accessed services through Whanganui Hospital. Travel was considered a barrier, however it was noted that travel reimbursements and a shuttle were available, albeit possibly difficult for some to access:

"Yes, there is but not everyone likes to...It goes from Ohakune, the St Johns Health Shuttle. It will come pick you up from here though. You pay a cost for it, but I think that can be reimbursed. Sometimes though the older people don't know how to navigate the, getting reimbursement so that's when they'll tap into their team to help."
"Most of the reimbursements are done online and that's really restrictive because they don't do it. "

In Waiouru there was no dental, however participants thought that the school did get a mobile dental service from time to time.

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