More deliberate focus needed to ensure all people in Aotearoa experience good wellbeing

Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission report highlights need to listen to and work alongside people with highest need and those disproportionately experiencing inequity

Te Rau Tira Wellbeing Outcomes Report 2021 [PDF, 9 MB] found that most communities in Aotearoa New Zealand tend to experience good wellbeing, most of the time. The report also found that a concerningly large minority of people and communities experience persistently poor wellbeing.

“This may not come as a surprise to many, but that does not make it any less concerning,” says Board Chair, Hayden Wano.

“When a person or community experiences positive wellbeing, they are generally engaged with society and have good quality of life and mental health. For those experiencing negative wellbeing, the reverse is often true. Our report shows that while a substantial majority are in a positive space, too many people and their communities are not.

“As a country, we need to address this. The He Ara Oranga report from the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction highlighted that mental wellbeing is deeply connected to wider wellbeing in our society. People called for this understanding to be embedded within our mental health and addiction system, our wider health and social system, and at every level of society.

“The wellbeing of each of us should be the concern of all of us. We live together in the same country – if some communities are marginalised, it affects us all,” he says.

Through Te Rau Tira, the Commission found that most people in Aotearoa experience good or better wellbeing across the range of measures examined; measures like life satisfaction, safety, and sense of purpose. However, some communities experience far worse wellbeing outcomes.

Most marginalised groups, such as young people, veterans, rainbow communities, Māori, Pacific peoples, former refugees and migrants, children in state care, older people, rural communities, disabled people, prisoners, and children experiencing adverse childhood events, looked at felt life is less worthwhile, and reported less security, poorer mental and overall health, and greater discrimination and barriers to wellbeing.

“Some vulnerable individuals and communities can become caught in a cycle of negative wellbeing. This is not good for them, nor for the broader community. It adversely affects, sometimes very seriously, many aspects of their quality of life, including their health. We need deliberate focus to see wellbeing increase across these communities – it’s vital to our collective health and wellbeing as a nation,” says Wano.

The report reveals a positive story of the growth of Māori collective strength, and wellbeing / oranga - while at the same time, there continues to be a disproportionate number of Māori individuals and whānau who are not doing well and are experiencing poor wellbeing across multiple dimensions.

The Commission’s role is to assess and monitor the wellbeing of all people in New Zealand. Through our He Ara Oranga wellbeing outcomes framework [PDF, 1.3 MB], we can bring a particular focus to those communities that experience persistently worse wellbeing outcomes.

“Our He Ara Oranga wellbeing outcomes framework was developed alongside communities and created with people with lived experience of poor wellbeing. It reflects what people say matters to them. Importantly, our framework brings together a te ao Māori view and a shared perspective view,” says Hayden Wano.

Te Rau Tira introduces the Commission’s vision to improve wellbeing for communities in Aotearoa.

“We want to see Kia Manawanui Aotearoa, the long-term pathway for mental wellbeing, implemented by government in a way that reflects the needs of all communities. We want to see new ways of working with communities and service providers, including encouraging community-led solutions, delivered by those who understand these issues and the communities that they are affecting,” says Hayden Wano.