Hayden Wano to chair national commission on mental health and wellbeing

Taranaki’s Hayden Wano has been appointed as the chair of the national Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission.

His appointment, announced this week by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, will see him play a key role in driving better mental health in New Zealand.

Wano has been the chair of Taranaki’s Tui Ora since its inception in 1998 and has more than 30 years’ experience in senior management. He also more than 40 years’ health sector experience including mental health, community services and medical services. 

Wano said the Government’s step to re-establish the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission was a bold one and he wanted to commend the demonstration of strong leadership.

“For those of us working in this field we have known for some time that we can do much better for whānau and for New Zealanders as a whole,” he said.

Wano said the brief was wide-ranging and included engagement with key agencies, the primary care sector, non-government organisations, kaupapa Māori providers, whānau, Pacific peoples and people with lived experience. 

“It is going to be critical that leadership is demonstrated at all levels and that this leadership and commitment is sustained over time. The whānau ora model is a great signpost to provide direction for us to consider. 

“I will bring to the role energy, enthusiasm and drive. I bring a broad range of experiences to the role and I have a particular passion for grassroots kaupapa Māori services. I look forwarding to working alongside my fellow board members.” 

The other members of the Commission are Dr Julie Wharewera-Mika, Kevin Hague, Kelly Pope and Kendall Flutey. 

Health Minister David Clark said Wano, who will continue as CEO of Tui Ora, was widely respected and was 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,” Clark said.

“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. 

Tui Ora board chairman Wayne Mulligan said the organisation believed Wano’s appointment would strengthen the position of Tui Ora, and wider Taranaki, as well as ensure a regional kaupapa Māori voice at Government level.

“We believe Hayden will be an asset in this high-profile role – and we are looking forward to him adding insight to our organisation as we also develop and explore the broad determinants of wellbeing including mental health, social services and economic sustainability.”