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Tangata whaiora must be represented

Tangata whaiora must be represented on Mental Health Commission

Tariana Turia, Maori Party Health spokesperson 22 May 2008

The Maori Party is calling on the Minister of Health to make a fourth appointment to the Mental Health Commission to overcome a ‘glaring oversight’ in the composition of the new board.

“The Maori Party strongly endorses the call from mental health consumer groups that a person with lived experience of mental illness should be appointed to the Mental Health Commission,” says Tariana Turia, health spokesperson for the Maori Party.

“A significant precedent has been broken by the Minister of Health in the appointments and reappointment he announced this week,” she said.

“Judge Ken Mason, whose 1996 inquiry led to the Commission being established, recommended three Commissioners be appointed – one of whom should be Maori, and one of whom should have lived with mental illness.

“It is a good principle and common sense that bodies representing the interests of particular communities should have representation from those communities, as a way to ensure accountability back to those most affected by decisions,” she said.

“That has been the case with the Mental Health Commission, until the appointments announced this week.

“The Maori Party welcomes the reappointment of Ray Watson as an experienced health professional and manager with knowledge of Maori communities and the interests of tangata whenua,” said Mrs Turia.

“However the interests of mental health consumers do not appear to be represented by one of their own, since Mary O’Hagan’s resignation from the Commission.

“While we make no criticism whatsoever of the two new appointees, we ask the Minister why he chose to overthrow established practice in making his selections.

“There are many suitable tangata whaiora with skills, qualifications and experience to fill the role of Commissioner, and we urge the Minister to make an additional appointment to the Commission to address this glaring oversight,” said Mrs Turia.


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