National News & Events

This section is dedicated to providing news items within New Zealand and to celebrate events that have occurred.  This page is interactive and is updated as events happen. If you have a news item or a celebration that you would like us to highlight, please send your write up and pictures to Akatu Marsters on akatu.marsters (at)


Every Life MattersEvery Life Matters - He Tapu te Oranga

If you haven’t seen it already, click here for the Every Life Matters – He Tapu te Oranga, the 2019-29 Suicide Prevention Strategy for Aotearoa New Zealand.

  • Suicide Prevention Strategy 2019–2029 outlines the framework and strategic direction for how we can work together in a coordinated way to achieve the vision.
  • Suicide Prevention Action Plan 2019–2024 identifies specific actions that will be undertaken to help achieve the vision, prevent suicide and support people affected by suicide in Aotearoa, New Zealand.


Health & Wellbeing Budget 2019

The Ministry of Health has a stewardship role to transform New Zealand’s mental health and addiction system.  They are leading the work on many of the 13 new Budget 2019 mental health, wellbeing and addiction initiatives.

Detailed information on the funding provided in Budget 2019 can be found on the Government’s Budget website, including other wellbeing initiatives led by other government agencies.

Many of the Budget 2019 initiatives strongly align with the Government’s response to He Ara Oranga, the report of the independent inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction.


Lifting Māori and Pacific peoples’ health outcomes is another important focus of Budget 2019. Funding for this purpose is included in most health initiatives, as well as being a specific focus of others such as the Māori and Pacific workforce development initiatives and culturally-relevant mental health, wellbeing and addiction initiatives.

Infrastructure and workforce

Strengthening the foundations of the health system – both in terms of investing in health infrastructure and the health workforce – is a strong theme of Budget 2019. Over the next two years an additional $1.7 billion will be invested in health sector capital projects.

Boosting the health and disability workforce is also a focus of Budget 2019, including $24.5 million over four years to fund more graduate registered nurses and graduate enrolled nurses to complete nurse entry to practice programmes. It will also fund more nurse coaches, mentors, supervision and better support for new graduates.

Rural health is getting an additional $18 million over four years to provide more GP training placements in rural and regional areas, and rural locum relief for midwives working in rural settings.

Click here to read more of the initiatives from the Ministry of Health website.


Inquiry ReportHe Ara Oranga - Report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health & Addiction

The 200-page report was handed over by the Inquiry panel chair Ron Paterson last week to the Minister of Health Dr David Clark, who has said the Government will not formally respond until March and that it will take more than one Budget to address all the “strong and coherent recommendations” raised in the “once-in-a-generation” report.

The report is titled ‘He Ara Oranga – Pathways to Wellness’ and the inquiry panel recommends major reform saying the mental health and addictions system is under pressure and unsustainable in its current form.

“This is not simply a report calling for more money for mental health and addiction services – though it is clear further investment is needed in Budget 2019 and in the future,” says the report. “It is a whole new approach to mental health and addiction in New Zealand. It sets out He Ara Oranga – pathways to wellness.”

The report says that currently key components of the system are missing – in particular it doesn’t respond adequately to people in serious distress to prevent them from ‘tipping over’ into crisis situations.

“It’s time to build a new mental health and addiction system on the existing foundations to provide a continuum of care and support. We will always have a special responsibility to those most in need. They must remain the priority. But we need to expand access so that people in serious distress – the ‘missing middle’ who currently miss out – can get the care and support they need to manage and recover.”

It is the first major report into mental health services since the Mason Inquiry of 1996 which lead to the formation of the Mental Health Commission (disestablished in 2012) and the 1998 Blueprint for Mental Health Services in New Zealand.

This latest inquiry was given much broader terms of reference to look at the full spectrum, from mental distress to enduring psychiatric illness, and a mandate to look beyond the health sector to other sectors and social determinants that influence mental health outcomes, as well as addiction.

The resulting report proposes major changes in current policies and laws, supported by significant increases in funding. The 40 recommendations are grouped into 12 broad areas.

Summary of Main Recommendations & Rationale

Expand access and choice to mental health services

  • Expand services from current target of 3% of population being able to access specialist mental health to ensure access to the ‘missing middle’.
  • An indicative access target may be 20% within the next five years.
  • A new explicit target must be supported by funding for a wider range of therapies, especially talk therapies, alcohol and other drug services and culturally aligned services.
  • Direct the Ministry of Health, in partnership with the new Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission, to facilitate and commit to funding a national co-designed service transformation process for mental health and addiction services.

Transform primary health care

  • Enhance the capability of the primary care workforce, with additional mental health and addiction training for general practitioners, practice nurses and community health workers.

Strengthen the NGO sector

  • Factors such as short-term contracts, high compliance costs and reporting requirements, multiple funders and contracts and a power imbalance are impacting on the sustainability of NGO providers in the community.
  • Recommends a clear stewardship role within central government to support NGO development and sustainability and improve commissioning of health and social services with NGOs.

Enhance wellbeing, promotion and prevention

  • Take a whole-of-government approach to wellbeing to tackle social determinants and support prevention activities that impact on multiple outcomes, not only mental health and addiction.

Take strong action on alcohol and other drugs

  • Take a stricter regulatory approach to the sale and supply of alcohol, informed by the recommendations from the 2010 Law Commission review, the 2014 Ministerial Forum on Alcohol Advertising and Sponsorship and the 2014 Ministry of Justice report on alcohol pricing
  • Replace criminal sanctions for the possession for personal use of controlled drugs with civil responses (for example, a fine, a referral to a drug awareness session run by a public health body or a referral to a drug treatment programme).
  • Support the replacement of criminal sanctions for the possession for personal use of controlled drugs with a full range of treatment and detox services.

Prevent suicide

  • Urgently complete and implement a national suicide prevention strategy, with a target of a 20% reduction in suicide rates by 2030.
  • Establish a suicide prevention office to provide stronger and sustained leadership on action to prevent suicide.

Reform the Mental Health Act

  • Repeal and replace the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992, to reflect a human rights approach, promote supported decision-making and align with a recovery and wellbeing model, and minimise compulsory or coercive treatment.

Establish a new Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission

  • There has been a general lack of confidence in leadership of the mental health and addiction sector over many years, since disestablishment of the original Mental Health Commission.
  • Establish a new Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission to act as a watchdog and provide leadership and oversight of mental health and wellbeing in New Zealand.
  • Direct the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission (or interim commission) to regularly report publicly on implementation of the Government’s response to the Inquiry’s recommendations, with the first report released one year after the Government’s response.

Establish a cross-party working group on mental health and wellbeing

  • Mental health is too important to be a political football.
  • A cross-party working group would provide an opportunity for members of the House of Representatives to collaborate and advocate for education, leadership and legislative progress on mental health and wellbeing.

Place people at the centre

  • Strengthen consumer voice and experience in mental health and addiction services.
  • Support families and whānau to be active participants in the care and treatment of their family members.


Cannabis Flower 1Cannabis May Reduce Crack Use

Scientists have never found a medicine to help crack users who want to decrease their consumption. Canadian researchers think cannabis might be the answer.

“Research done by the BC Centre on Substance Use in Vancouver shows that using cannabis may enable people to consume less crack. Could marijuana become to crack what methadone is to heroin – a legal, safe and effective substitute drug that reduces cravings and other negative impacts of problematic drug use?

Other research has shown that long-term cannabis dependence might increase cocaine cravings and risk of relapse. Rather than contradict findings from Canada, Brazil and Jamaica, these discrepancies suggest that patterns of cannabis use and dependence, and the timing of self-medication with cannabis, may play a role in individual outcomes.”  Click here to read more...

A Life of It's Own

This powerful feature documentary directed and produced by award-winning Australian journalist Helen Kapalos aims to provide clarity and understanding around a controversial issue - medical marijuana.  Click here to watch video on Choice TV.

Open Floor of Media Take

Answers questions from Maori Television studio audience with Māori Party MP Marama Fox, NORML president Chris Fowlie, medicinal cannabis lawyer Sue Grey, General Manager of Te Utuhina Manaakitanga Donna Blair and Consumer Project Lead of Matua Raki Suzy Morrison.  Click here to watch video on Maori TV

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