The Ministry of Health has today announced the appointment of Matthew Tukaki (Ngāi Te Rangi) as the new Director of the Suicide Prevention Office.
Acting Deputy Director-General of Mental Health and Addiction, Dr Arran Culver said Mr Tukaki (pictured) was well-suited to head up the Suicide Prevention Office as he was involved in establishing a similar model in Australia.
‘We know that suicide can be prevented, but we need continued strong leadership and advocacy in this area and Matthew’s skill and extensive experience will be of real benefit,” Dr Culver said.
“While we have seen a small decrease in the number of suicides in the last two consecutive years of reporting, there is much more to do. Our goal is achieving a future where there is no suicide in Aotearoa New Zealand, and I know this is an aspiration close to Matthew’s heart.”
Mr Tukaki said he was excited about joining the Suicide Prevention Office and building on the mahi that has been underway since the Office was set up in 2019 .
“Suicide prevention has been my passion for many years and here in Aotearoa I would like to believe we have an opportunity to really change the dial as we emerge from COVID-19,” he said.
“We know that many of the struggles of whānau and New Zealanders have been amplified as a result of the pandemic, but we also knew leading into it we had a lot of work to do.”
Mr Tukaki starts in the role on 1 July and said he was looking forward to engaging with as many people and organisations as possible to make a meaningful difference from day one.
“It won’t just take one or some of us – the mahi around suicide prevention in Aotearoa will take all of us – irrespective of our colour or creed, our postcodes or where we call home,” he said.
On behalf of the Ministry of Health, Dr Culver also acknowledged the work of Dr Sarah Hetrick, who stepped in and acted in the role while the search for a permanent appointment was underway.