Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission gets to work


Minister of Health Andrew Little has congratulated the inaugural Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission and its board, as the Commission marks its first day as an independent Crown entity.

“This is a very significant day for the Commission,” said Andrew Little.

“Its members will be dedicated to contributing to better and equitable mental health and wellbeing outcomes for all people in New Zealand. The inaugural Commission has a strong board to support the Government’s goals around mental health and wellbeing and I want to wish chair Hayden Wano and his team all the best for their mahi which lies ahead.

“Hayden also chaired the initial Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission ministerial advisory group, prior to the permanent Commission commencing. He has extensive governance experience and a strong background in the health sector, and his ongoing involvement will be a significant factor in the success of the Commission.

“The board’s membership comprises a diverse range of skills, backgrounds and experience and I am confident it will represent Aotearoa New Zealand’s broad population well and make a tangible difference to our health and social systems in the years to come.

“I want to thank the Inquiry Panel that led the inquiry into mental health and addiction in 2018. They delivered an honest account of the mental health and addiction landscape, including recommendations which have now resulted in change.

“At this time, I also want to acknowledge the work of the outgoing Mental Health Commissioner Kevin Allan. Kevin began his term in 2016 and I recognise his work in helping ensure that everyone has the opportunity to participate fully in the community and have access to high quality health, disability, and social services.”

 The following members have been appointed to the Commission, which as an independent Crown entity has its membership appointed by the Governor-General.

  • Hayden Wano (Chair), who has over 40 years’ health sector experience including in the areas of mental health, community services and medical services. He is Chief Executive of Tui Ora Ltd, a Taranaki-based Māori development organisation and provider of social and health services.
  • Sunny Collings, who became the Chief Executive of the Health Research Council in February this year, following nine years as Dean and Head of Campus at the University of Otago, Wellington. She has a background as a researcher and clinician, having practiced as a Consultant Psychiatrist for over 25 years.
  • Alex El Amanni, who has been working in mental health and addiction services and studying mental health and addiction for the last 10 years. He currently works as a Lead Addiction Advisor for Kāhui Tū Kaha, a Ngāti Whātua not-for-profit provider of housing and mental health services.
  • Kevin Hague, who is a member of the Initial Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from different sectors, including parliamentary experience. He is Chief Executive of Forest & Bird, and was previously Executive Director of the New Zealand AIDS Foundation and Chief Executive of the West Coast District Health Board.
  • Taimi Allan, who is the Chief Executive of Changing Minds, a not-for-profit organisation operated entirely by those with personal experience of recovery from mental health and/or addiction issues. Changing Minds focuses on providing information, advice and advocacy on a range of health and social issues, and leading collaborative social change projects.
  • Jemaima Tiatia-Seath, who has a public/community health background and was one of the six panellists on the 2018 Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry. She is the Co-Head of School, Te Wānanga o Waipapa, School of Māori Studies and Pacific Studies at the University of Auckland.

Further information on the Commission and its work can be found at