Mental health and addiction outcomes are worse for Māori compared to the overall population, with Māori being more likely to experience mental distress and be placed in seclusion, and less likely to receive mental health and addiction care that meets their unique needs as Māori.
Te Aka Whai Ora is committed to improving mental health and addiction outcomes for Māori. We work on a range of kaupapa, with a focus on equity in mental health and addiction support and treatment, underpinned by te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Repealing and Replacing the Mental Health Act
The Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992 (known as the Mental Health Act), sets out the rules for when the government may intervene in a person’s life to provide mental health treatment without their consent.
Manatū Hauora Ministry of Health is leading advice to Government on the repeal and replacement of the Mental Health Act, in response to a recommendation from this 2018 report:
The aim of this mahi is to create new legislation that protects and respects human rights, implements the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and improves equity for Māori and other priority population groups.
Te Aka Whai Ora is working closely with Manatū Hauora on this mahi.
The Government has now agreed to the suite of policy proposals for new mental health legislation.
The Cabinet papers and materials setting out the policy for new legislation are available at:
Summary of key proposals of interest for Māori
Paper 1 – Transforming mental health law: Foundations for new mental health legislation
Paper 2 – Transforming mental health law: Second tranche of policy decisions
Stay up-to-date on further updates on the work to repeal and replace the Mental Health Act at:
After a Bill is approved by Cabinet, it will go through the Parliamentary process. This includes select committee consideration where there will be an opportunity for the public to comment on the Bill before it becomes law.
Find more information on this process at: How a bill becomes law(external link)
When there is a call for submissions on this Bill, Te Aka Whai Ora will provide further information on how to engage in that process.
While the Government has agreed to the policy for new mental health legislation, there is further work to be done to bring the policy proposals to life – this will include the drafting of a Bill as well as detailed implementation planning.
As part of this further work, Te Aka Whai Ora is leading a project, Ki te Whaiao, with the support of Manatū Hauora.
Ki te Whaiao is investigating kaupapa Māori approaches to compulsory mental health care and explores whether these approaches offer any insights into the feasibility of eliminating restrictive practices such as seclusion and/ or restraint under the new mental health legislation.
This is because:
This is therefore a priority issue for both Te Aka Whai Ora and Manatū Hauora.
Ki te Whaiao is progressing alongside the development of new mental health legislation and is expected to be complete by the end of 2023.
The outcomes will inform the drafting of the Bill and detailed implementation planning (including for example, informing changes needed to operational policy, guidelines, or training).