Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission

The Government is establishing an independent Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission as part of its response to He Ara Oranga: Report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction (He Ara Oranga).

The Commission will provide system-level oversight of mental health and wellbeing in New Zealand and hold the government of the day and other decision makers to account for the mental health and wellbeing of people in New Zealand.

The Commission’s objective, functions and powers are set out in the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission Act 2020, which establishes the Commission as an independent Crown entity to contribute to better and equitable mental health and wellbeing for people in New Zealand. The Commission’s functions include:

  • assessing and reporting publicly on the mental health and wellbeing of people in New Zealand;
  • making recommendations to improve the effectiveness, efficiency, and adequacy of approaches to mental health and wellbeing;
  • promoting alignment, collaboration, and communication between entities involved in mental health and wellbeing;
  • monitoring mental health services and addiction services and advocating improvements to those services;
  • advocating for the collective interests of people who experience mental distress or addiction, and the persons (including family and whānau) who support them.

The Commission must have particular regard to the experience of, and outcomes for, Māori when performing its functions. It must also maintain systems and processes to ensure that it has the capability and capacity to uphold the Treaty of Waitangi (Te Tiriti o Waitangi) and its principles and to engage with Māori and to understand perspectives of Māori.

The Commission will not investigate individual complaints about mental health and addiction services, which will continue to be considered by the Health and Disability Commissioner.

The Government intends that the Commission will open its doors in early 2021, or sooner, and establishment work for the Commission is underway.

The main decision documents relating to establishing the Commission are available at Cabinet material: Establishing a New Independent Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission. For information about the legislative process for the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission Bill, please see the New Zealand Parliament website.

Initial Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission

While the permanent Commission is being established, the Initial Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission (the Initial Commission) will undertake some, but not all, of the functions of the permanent Commission. The Initial Commission has been established under section 11 of the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000.

The draft terms of reference for the Initial Commission are available:

The Initial Commission is expected to be in place until February 2021 (depending on the progress of legislation establishing the permanent Commission).

See the website of the Initial Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission.

Membership of the Initial Commission

The Government announced appointments to the Initial Commission on 12 September 2019.

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.

For general enquiries about the Initial Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission, please contact [email protected]

For media enquiries, please contact [email protected]

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