Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission

The Government has committed to 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 Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission will perform an enduring role in transforming New Zealand’s approach to mental health and wellbeing. It 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.

On 14 November 2019, the Government introduced the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission Bill to Parliament. You can see the progress of the Bill on the New Zealand Parliament website.

The Bill proposes to establish the Commission as an independent Crown entity to contribute to better and more equitable mental health and wellbeing for people in New Zealand. The Bill provides the Commission with functions to monitor and advocate for the collective mental health and wellbeing of people in New Zealand, and promote alignment, collaboration, and communication between government and non-government contributors to mental health and wellbeing.

The Commission will build on the roles of existing organisations that contribute to mental health and wellbeing by looking across the whole system. This will include looking at how the system:

  • promotes mental health and wellbeing
  • builds resilience and prevents poor mental health and wellbeing (including addiction and suicidal distress and behaviour)
  • identifies and responds to people experiencing poor mental health and wellbeing, and the persons (including family and whānau) who support them. 

The Commission’s focus will span all government and non-government contributors to mental health and wellbeing. This includes the health and disability, social welfare, housing, education, and justice, sectors, as well as social determinants of health, such as housing, employment, poverty, social attitudes, and discrimination. It includes whether approaches to mental health and wellbeing are culturally appropriate.

The Commission will contribute to better and more equitable mental health and wellbeing outcomes for people in New Zealand by influencing:

  • government and non-government decision makers to develop effective, culturally appropriate strategies and policies that contribute to improved mental health and wellbeing
  • service funders and providers to design and provide appropriate services and supports
  • research and evidence funders and providers to improve the evidence base relating to mental health and wellbeing
  • people and businesses in New Zealand to take action to improve their own mental health and wellbeing and that of family, whānau, employees, clients, and the wider community. 

The main decision documents relating to establishing the Commission are available at Cabinet material: Establishing a New Independent Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission.

Initial Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission

While legislation is being progressed, an 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).

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

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