Initial Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission appointed

  • Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern
  • Hon Dr David Clark
Prime Minister Health

The Government has announced details of the initial Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission which will play a key role in driving better mental health in New Zealand.

The previous National Government closed down the Mental Health Commission in 2012.

“We are taking mental health seriously and so did the Mental Health Commission,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

“It was held in high regard and did a good job of providing leadership and accelerating progress across the sector. We want it back to hold us and future governments to account.

“The initial commission will track our progress on the range of actions we’re taking to tackle the long-term challenge of improving mental healthcare across New Zealand. 

“It will report back directly to the Minister of Health within one year,” Jacinda Ardern said.

The initial commission will lay the groundwork for the permanent Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission in February 2021, following legislation to set up the crown entity.

The initial commission will:

  • Provide independent scrutiny of the Government’s progress in improving New Zealand’s mental health and wellbeing
  • Promote collaboration between mental health and wellbeing entities 
  • Develop advice for the permanent Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission so it can make swift progress once it has been established, including a work programme, outcomes and monitoring framework

The Government has appointed Hayden Wano as the Chair of the initial Commission and four other members. Mr Wano is of Te Atiawa, Taranaki and Ngāti Awa descent and brings over 40 years’ health sector experience in mental health, community and medical services to this role. 

Health Minister David Clark said Mr Wano is widely respected and is ideally suited to the role.

“A key focus for Mr Wano and the initial commission will be looking at the wider range of factors that contribute to people’s overall mental wellbeing.

“That includes looking across social welfare, housing, education and justice as well as talking to those with experience of mental health and addiction,” David Clark said. 

Re-establishing the Commission was a key recommendation of the Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction and delivers on the Government’s commitment in the Speech from the Throne. It was funded in the Wellbeing Budget in May. 

Today’s announcement follows the release on Tuesday of the Suicide Prevention Strategy and Action Plan and the start of the primary mental healthcare roll-out across the country.

Initial Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission - biographical information:

Chair – Hayden Wano has over 30 years’ experience in senior management and over 40 years’ health sector experience including, mental health, community services and medical services. He is the Chief Executive of Tui Ora Limited, a Taranaki-based Māori development organisation and provider of social and health services.

His governance experience includes, Interim Chair of the National Health Board, Chair of Taranaki District Health Board and Chair of the Health Sponsorship Council. He is a Director of the Taranaki Chamber of Commerce, and recently retired from the role of Chair of TSB Community Trust.

Member – Kendall Flutey is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Banqer, an education programme that teaches children concepts around income, interest on savings, tax, property investment and insurance. In 2018 Ms Flutely won the title of Young Māori Business Leader of the Year and earlier this year won Te Whetū Maiangi Award for Young Achievers

Member – Kevin Hague is a former Green Party MP and the current Chief Executive of Forest & Bird. He was previously the Executive Director of the New Zealand AIDS Foundation and Chief Executive of the West Coast District Health Board.

Member – Kelly Pope is a mental health advocate, youth worker and writer. She is the Founder of Crazy Young Things (CYT) Consulting which provides consumer advice relating to mental health and youth peer support. She is also a Child Support Worker at Stepping Stone Trust and a Research Assistant at the University of Canterbury.

Member – Dr Julie Wharewera-Mika is a clinical psychologist and lead co-researcher at Manu Ārahi ~ The Flying Doctors. She has more than 20 years’ mental health experience having occupied various roles within the sector, primarily as a clinical psychologist, in inpatient services, adult, child and adolescent community mental health District Health Board services. Dr Wharewera-Mika’s broader areas of research interest are focused on improving Māori mental health and wellbeing, mental health service delivery, support services for survivors of sexual violence and Māori mental health workforce development.