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Mike Tomlinson

Adapting and accelerating our work for people and communities across New Zealand was a key focus as we faced the ongoing impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Our donors, supporters and volunteers continued to support us in incredible ways, and together, we were able to maintain our focus on improving the heart health of New Zealanders.

In 2021, we refreshed our strategic plan with a sharpened focus on leading and funding life-saving heart research, delivering impactful services and connecting with communities to create heart-healthy futures together.

It's a pleasure to report on some of our achievements, made possible by the generosity of our supporters.

Funding for heart research

We were incredibly proud to announce more than $4 million of new funding for heart research and specialist training for cardiologists, supporting the development of transformational new treatments and world-class clinical care for New Zealanders living with heart disease.

Our collaboration with the University of Auckland's Healthy Hearts for Aotearoa New Zealand Centre of Research Excellence identified opportunities to facilitate further research through co-funding. We look forward to continuing our work together.

The recent launch of My Heart Check meant 37,000 New Zealanders could access a free online heart health check at our website, supporting our goal to improve the early detection and management of heart disease.

Together with the Ministry of Health, we ran an atrial fibrillation awareness campaign, mainly online, to educate New Zealanders on how to take their pulse and help identify undiagnosed atrial fibrillation in our communities.

Impact of Covid-19

Covid-19 hampered our presence in communities at times. However, our teams worked quickly to address the challenges. They were driven to succeed in connecting with people, whether through online services or additional tools and resources for educators, families, students and those living with heart disease.

The Covid-19 response settings impacted our work in early learning services. However, our teams worked tirelessly to strengthen our online capabilities and expertise to build deep connections with educators and provide a wide range of practical resources.

Clive Nelson

During the year's second half, we were delighted to return to early learning services to support heart-healthy environments. This work is done with funding from the Ministry of Health, and it was pleasing to have this renewed for a further three years.

In June 2021, we celebrated 15 years of the food reformulation programme that has supported food companies in reducing sodium (salt) and sugar levels in crucial food categories. We've seen dramatic improvements in critical categories, including bread, where 150 tonnes of salt were removed from white bread in one year.

Big Heart Charity Lottery

The Big Heart Appeal street collection in February 2022 was cancelled for the second time due to Covid-19. While it was incredibly disappointing, we were pleased to be able to extend our fundraising efforts with the introduction of the Big Heart Charity Lottery launched in May. The new offering is exclusively online and complements the longstanding Heart Foundation Lottery.

In June, it was a privilege to celebrate and welcome back Toi Tangata to our refurbished office building, Te Whare Manawanui, in Ellerslie, Auckland. Named by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, Te Whare Manawanui means house of the steadfast and big-hearted.

Our thanks

Our thanks go to all the kind-hearted people and organisations who fundraise, donate, campaign and support our purpose. It's through your generosity that we can achieve all that we do.

Thank you to all members of the Board and Board sub-committees, Scientific Advisory Group and Investment Committee, who generously gift their time and professional expertise. A special acknowledgement and thank you to long-serving Board member Tom Treacy, who has retired, and a warm welcome to Steve Anderson, who will bring his extensive experience to the Board.

While we continue to face many challenges, strong financial stewardship over many years has enabled us to navigate these uncertain times, weathering the cycles of economic and financial downturns while maintaining a strong focus on our strategy and the heart health of New Zealanders.

We look forward with optimism, making progress on our new strategic plan and working toward our vision – Hearts fit for life.

Mike Tomlinson, Chairman and Clive Nelson, Chief Executive

Gerry Devlin

Transformational research underway

A pacemaker that mimics the hearts of elite athletes, a simple blood test to predict imminent heart attacks, and ‘living drugs’ to regenerate damaged heart tissue were some of the research projects awarded funding this past year.

The 2021 awards included six Project Grants, four Overseas Training and Research Fellowships, seven Research Fellowships, two Māori Cardiovascular Research Fellowships, five Small Project Grants and five Summer Studentships.

We were delighted to award $4.1 million of funding across the bench-to-bedside spectrum, taking the total awarded since 1968 to more than $82 million.

How we diagnose and treat heart disease has changed dramatically in recent years. This includes better imaging techniques, new medications and less invasive treatment, all now established in New Zealand due to successful research and overseas training fellowships.

The outcomes for people with heart attacks and other heart conditions have improved dramatically due to research. New and better treatments result in longer and healthier lives for thousands of New Zealanders.

We must continue these incredible advances and enable our researchers, innovators, doctors and nurses to keep making progress on improving heart health outcomes for New Zealanders.

It’s incredible to think that when we started funding research more than 50 years ago, we could never have imagined that we’d be able to achieve what we can today.

Through research, we are always learning more about the causes of heart disease and finding new ways to prevent, treat and even reverse some conditions.

One day, I hope we can identify genetic markers to predict if our children are at risk of heart disease. When babies are born with congenital heart defects, they can be treated without having to endure multiple surgeries.

Thank you so much to our generous supporters for enabling the investment in the next generation of cardiologists and researchers. Together, we’re creating healthier futures by improving the heart health of New Zealanders.

Dr Gerry Devlin, Heart Foundation Medical Director

The differences you have made this year

Here are just a few of the highlights from our year, that you've helped us achieve.

of funding invested into research grants in 2021
children reached through our education programmes
heart health resources downloaded
My Heart Check assessments completed

Supporting heart health in communities


Our team were out and about in communities across the country when the Covid-19 response settings permitted. Located at supermarkets, malls, workplaces, libraries and other public spaces, the team provides information, advice and support to people to check their heart health.

Dunedin-based Janette White says that connecting with people in communities and having meaningful heart health face-to-face conversations is very rewarding.

“Through my work at several supermarkets, I identified a woman with very high blood pressure who went on to find out she had type one diabetes,” says Janette. “I was thrilled to be able to identify a risk and then recommend she see her GP.

“I’ve come across others identified as having possible atrial fibrillation, tachycardia and bradycardia. They were totally unaware of their condition.

“Helping people make changes in their lives is so worthwhile. I’ve met some awesome people in their workplaces who want to change their lives, and I can help them do that.”

Janette is one of 16 Heart Health Advocates who operate around the country. She has undertaken more than 600 pulse and heart health checks in the past year.

Growing healthy tamariki

The Tohu Manawa Ora - Healthy Heart Award helps create heart-healthy environments in early learning services. Last year, our nutrition advisors supported more than 200 services to earn awards throughout Aotearoa.

For Carterton Kindergarten in Wairarapa, the opportunity to have the support of a dedicated nutrition advisor providing advice, menus and resources has led to a long-term dedication to creating a heart-healthy environment in their early learning service.

“Our Tohu Manawa Ora - Healthy Heart Award journey started way back in 2011,” says Nelly Kendall-Carpenter from Carterton Kindergarten. “Joining the programme was initially about finding a way to communicate with parents the need for healthy options during celebrations and in the lunch boxes of our tamariki.

“Since then, we have improved and made new procedures for nutrition, breastfeeding and physical outdoor activities. These are now on our schedule for revisiting and renewing each year, which is great,” says Nelly.

75 dream homes given away

Marking a successful long-term partnership with Jennian Homes, a beautiful home in Blenheim was the 75th dream home given away in the Heart Foundation Lottery.

“This is a significant milestone and a fantastic achievement,” says Alison Wheatley-Mahon, Head of Fundraising and Partnerships. “Jennian Homes has been a major sponsor since 2008 – we’re so grateful for their support.”

Since the Heart Foundation Lottery was launched, we’ve invested in funding life-saving heart research and other vital services, improving the heart health of New Zealanders.

Alison says recent changes that permit lottery tickets to be purchased online have been a game-changer for the Heart Foundation. “We can give more New Zealanders the opportunity of winning a dream home, wherever they are based.

“A big-hearted thank you to our long-term major sponsor and partner, Jennian Homes and their family of product partners.” Their unwavering support over the past 14 years has been incredible, and we look forward to building many more lottery homes together in future.

Our heart-felt thanks to our supporters

Thank you to our kind-hearted supporters, including individuals, organisations and trusts who help make a difference to thousands of New Zealanders every day. Without your tremendous commitment to the cause, we wouldn’t be able to achieve the work we do in communities across the country. 

Together, we are creating heart-healthy futures.

  • AIA Vitality
  • Anil Ranchord
  • Anthony Quirk and Elaine Butterworth
  • Bert and May Wilson Charitable Trust
  • Chris Nunn
  • Community Trust South
  • Dorothy Cutts
  • Estate of Grace E M Kay - Orakau Heart Research Scholarship Trust
  • Griffyn R Gardner Estate
  • Hutt Valley Heart Trust
  • Hynds Foundation
  • J A Hanning Enterprises Ltd
  • Jack Jeffs Charitable Trust
  • JBS Dudding Trust
  • Jennian Homes
  • Jennifer Smith Family Trust
  • Jenny Smith
  • John Ormiston
  • Malcolm Legget and Carrie Hobson
  • Margery and Douglas Bassett
  • Mark Richards
  • Martin Stiles
  • Michael and Betsy Benjamin
  • My Food Bag
  • Nelson Bays Primary Health
  • New Zealand Community Trust
  • Nigel Wilson
  • Norman Sharpe
  • Nova Charitable Trust
  • One Foundation
  • Owen and John Whitfield Charitable Trust
  • Perpetual Guardian
  • Peter Ruygrok
  • Pub Charity Limited
  • Richard Troughton
  • Rob Doughty
  • Room-Simmonds Charitable Trust
  • Rosalind PT Sherwood Estate
  • Southland Medical Foundation Inc
  • Stan and Margaret Hoffman
  • The Dowdall Trust
  • The G.R. Winn Trust
  • The Hilda Curtis Charitable Trust
  • The Lion Foundation
  • The Reed Charitable Trust
  • The Trustees of the Ray Watts Charitable Trust
  • The Winton & Margaret Bear (Charitable) Trust’s Children’s Heart Health Care Trust
  • William Noel Pharazyn Charitable Trust