Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission launch event

On Wednesday, 14 April 2021, the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission held a launch event to acknowledge the establishment of the Commission, which officially opened its doors on Wednesday, 9 February 2021.

Establishing the Commission was one of the recommendations of He Ara Oranga, the Government inquiry into mental health and addiction. The Commission's objective is to contribute to better and equitable mental health and wellbeing outcomes for people in New Zealand. It will perform an enduring role in transforming Aotearoa New Zealand's approach to mental health and wellbeing.

The event was held at Wharewaka function centre in Wellington and was attended by more than 160 guests from across the mental health and wellbeing sector, government agencies, and community organisations. Hon Andrew Little, Minister of Health, Hayden Wano, Chair of the Commission Board, Dean Rangihuna, He Ara Oranga Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry Panel member, and former Mental Health Commissioner and current Deputy Commissioner at HDC, Kevin Allan, spoke at the event.

Kevin Allan affirmed HDC’s commitment to the new Commission and spoke of continuing to work closely with the Board and staff to improve mental health and wellbeing services in Aotearoa. With the new Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission taking on the important monitoring and advocacy functions for mental health and addiction services previously held by HDC, Kevin Allan said that HDC was fully supporting the Commission’s establishment as it “takes on the important kaupapa within a bigger agenda  promoting wellbeing while paying attention to services.”

Kevin Allan and Health and Disability Commissioner, Morag McDowell, presented the new Commission Board with a personal gift to acknowledge the passing over of responsibilities.

“We chose a glass sculpture of a te huia feather as traditionally it is a symbol of leadership and mana. We gift it to the Commission in this spirit and it was also given as a gift of friendship and with respect. In doing so, we ask that the kaupapa we hand to you is safely held and that it is strengthened.”

He called on the new Commission to commit itself to being fearless and fair.

The occasion was celebrated with performances from Ngāti Pōneke Young Māori Club and StarJam Wellington’s, The Boogie Bandits. You can watch a video of the event on the Commission’s YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/HBJdgf2YxnU.

The Commission will provide system-level oversight of mental health and wellbeing and hold the Government of the day and other decision makers to account for the mental health and wellbeing of people in Aotearoa New Zealand. The Commission will play an important role in ensuring the voices and perspectives of priority groups, such as Māori, Pacific peoples, refugees and migrants, rainbow communities, rural communities, disabled people, veterans, prisoners, young people, older people, children experiencing adverse childhood events, and children in State care, are heard.

It will also look at how services and systems can improve the wellbeing of people living with mental distress and / or addiction, and their whānau.

Kevin Allan, former mental health commissioner