National | Matthew Tukaki

Tukaki appointed director of the Suicide Prevention Office

Since passing on the reins of the Ministerial Advisory Board of Oranga Tamariki to Sir Mark Solomon in April this year, Matthew Tukaki has already found his next venture.

Tukaki, of Ngāi Te Rangi, Mataatua and Te Whānau-ā-Apanui descent, has been appointed the director for the Suicide Prevention Office (SPO), the Ministry of Health announced earlier today.

This role isn't the first time Tukaki has worked in suicide prevention. He was the former chairman of Suicide Prevention Australia, was the inaugural chair of the National Coalition for Suicide Prevention, and has been involved in Indigenous suicide prevention for over 10 years.

Tukaki says he is excited about joining the office and developing the work that has been going on since its inception in 2019, as suicide prevention has been his passion for many years.

"I would like to believe we have an opportunity to really change the dial as we emerge from Covid-19.


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Everyone to make a difference

"We know 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."

He says the mahi on suicide prevention will take everyone, "irrespective of our colour or creed, our postcodes, or where we call home," to make a difference.

To achieve a future in which there are no suicides in Aotearoa New Zealand, the SPO provides a central location for oversight and leadership of suicide prevention and postvention work across the nation.

It does so by supporting Māori leadership and collaborating closely with communities, population groups experiencing high numbers or rates of suicide, and suicide prevention groups, organisations, and agencies.

Tukaki will begin his new role on July 1, taking over from Dr Sarah Hetrick who stepped in and acted in the role as the search for a permanent appointment continued.