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Te Whāriki o te Ara Oranga

The network for innovators, influencers and leaders driving change

Te Whāriki o te Ara Oranga (Whāriki) is the network for innovators, influencers and leaders driving change in mental health and addiction services. It helps people to find examples of what is working to transform services and connect communities to the tools and solutions that are leading change for tāngata whai ora, whānau and all communities.

Focus on wellbeing

Whāriki is a response to the call in He Ara Oranga, the report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction, for a system focused on wellbeing that makes the most of existing talent and builds capability and relationships across the sector and communities. A key component of the Government’s response to He Ara Oranga is to establish a mechanism for sharing innovation and learning about what works well, so services can change in ways that improve the mental health and wellbeing of all New Zealanders.

Power to transform

Whāriki enables members to connect, wānanga, and learn from the innovation that is already happening across Aotearoa and tap into the experience of others. Te Tiriti-based and sector-owned, Whāriki is accelerating improvements in mental health and wellbeing and equity for Māori by providing a forum to:

  • be inspired by diverse perspectives and experiences

  • learn about Māori models of health and wellbeing and approaches that address equity

  • hui with mental health and addiction leaders from across the country to exchange knowledge, thinking and tools

  • learn about the principles of innovation and how to apply them in your community

  • support the creation of subnetworks focused on specific aspects of practical change within services.

Share learning and innovation

Whāriki evolves as more and more members participate and shape its direction. Its online platform helps members make connections to share their experiences, resources and practical examples of how they are delivering services differently. Whāriki supports talent, drive and new ways of thinking by identifying great improvements that already exist. Whāriki pulls these pockets of excellence together to extend them across the motu.

Be part of change

Whāriki welcomes innovators, leaders and influencers of all kinds across mental health and addiction services, including tangata whenua, people with lived experience, clinicians, planners and funders, and service managers that reflect the diversity of Aotearoa. Members bring collective knowledge, wide-ranging perspectives and an openness to learn. To find out more and join a supportive community committed to change, visit Whāriki. There is a short registration process to get access to the platform.


The current focus of the network is on thinking, initiatives and events in mental health and addiction services that:

  • improve equity for Māori
  • increase access to services
  • expand choices so that services work well for people
  • learn from COVID-19 innovation.

These initial focus areas were determined from feedback from the sector and will evolve. Get in touch to recommend initiatives, feedback and contribute to the conversation.

The team

A small team working out of Te Pou supports Whāriki including two ringa kohikohi (knowledge brokers) who connect people into the network and forge connections between them. They find, translate and share knowledge, and facilitate hui to enable the sharing of what works.

The network is funded by the Ministry of Health with input from the Health Quality and Safety Commission and Te Pou. Collectively, they are accountable to deliver and oversee Whāriki.

Meet Katheryn Butters (RN, MPhil)

Whāriki ringa kohikohi (knowledge broker)

Katheryn is a registered nurse with more than 25 years in the mental health and addiction sector in leadership, management and education roles. Katheryn has had successes with small and large-scale change and is committed to social justice and equity for Māori. Having joined from the university sector, Katheryn has a particular interest in how to support and develop the workforce to make real changes that improve services for the people of Aotearoa.

Meet Denis Grennell

Whāriki ringa kohikohi (knowledge broker)

Denis joined Whāriki as ringa kohikohi - knowledge broker - with lived and work experience in the hauora hinengaro (mental health) and ngā piringa wara (addiction) sectors. Denis has held various positions in both sectors and worked across the public, industry, corporate, community and Te Ao Māori worlds. Denis joins Whāriki with established networks locally and nationally and a history of transitioning between te ao hurihuri and te ao Māori in pursuit of equity for Māori.



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