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Kia āta kōwhiri Choosing Wisely

The Choosing Wisely campaign seeks to reduce harm from unnecessary and low-value tests and treatment.

The mental health and addiction quality improvement programme’s consumer advisory group provides expert advice and support from the tāngata whai ora and whānau lived experience perspective. This includes supporting and participating in programme events and projects, in addition to helping to connect the programme with a wide and diverse range of tāngata whai ora and whānau.

The advisory group started in May 2018 and meets quarterly in March, June, September and December. It comprises eight tāngata whai ora and whānau who were selected using an open application process, plus the chair. The group works alongside and complements the Māori Advisory Group to the programme.

The group is chaired by the national consumer (family and whānau) engagement advisor, Arana Pearson, and secretariat is provided by the programme administrator, Hariata Bell.

For more information, please email

Group members:

Arana Pearson (chair)

Head and shoulders photo of Arana PearsonArana has worked at national, regional and district levels for over 30 years, advocating for people with lived experience of mental illness to be valued and included in all aspects of service development, design, delivery and review.

He has a background in adult education and was the founding chair of the consumer group that advised on the logo and name of the national ‘Like Minds, Like Mine’ project, aimed at counteracting stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness.

Arana’s recent focus has been the meaningful engagement of consumers in the development of a lived experience and whānau-led strategy for the Bay of Plenty district. He joined the team at Te Tāhū Hauora Health Quality & Safety Commission team in 2023.

Leo McIntyre

Ko Remutaka te maunga
Ko Awakiarangi te awa
Ko Kōtimana me Aerihi ōku iwi
Ko Leo McIntyre tōku ingoa.

Leo is from Wellington and has worked/volunteered in the mental health and addiction sector for over 16 years, in a variety of consumer and management roles. He is currently chair of Balance Aotearoa, a national consumer-led and run NGO, and he is also a contractor working in mental health and private business. He represents Balance Aotearoa on the Disabled Persons Organisations (DPO) Coalition. Leo also has experience as a family member, supporting people with disabilities and mental health issues.

Martin Burke

Martin is from Dunedin, but now lives in Auckland. He is the consumer advisor for the Salvation Army in their addiction, reintegration, supportive accommodation and palliative care directorate. He lectures at the University of Otago (Canterbury) on addictions and mental health, at the National Addictions Centre. He has been a consumer advisor at Southern District Health Board (DHB) as well as Canterbury DHB in the forensic services area. He is also a member of the Alliance South Community Health Council. He is particularly interested in the peer/lived experience/service user contribution to academia and brings addiction expertise to the group.

Penelope Saunders-Francis

Pene is from rural Wairarapa and is a member of the Wairarapa MHA Consumer Leadership Group. She is also on the 3DHB (Capital & Coast, Hutt Valley and Wairarapa DHBs) lived experience advisor group and the technical advisory group for the substance addiction (compulsory assessment and treatment) legislation. Her significant lived experience of addiction has led to her membership of the Central Regional Residential AOD (alcohol and other drug) Evaluation Panel, having worked for over 30 years to achieve better health outcomes for her peers, who are some of the most marginalised groups of consumers. She is passionate about genuine consumer involvement.

Synthia Dash

Synthia is of Samoan and NZ European decent. She has worked in mental health, addictions, disability and social service sectors for 20 years; both in frontline support roles with people with disabilities, at risk youth and the elderly, as well as in back-facing roles in workforce development, cultural competency framework development, service quality and improvement, systemic advocacy and mental health research. Her passion for using her ‘living experience’ of mental illness and from supporting close whānau in their recovery journeys, continues to motivate her personal drive, to influence and affirm the voice of Tāngata Whaiora in service development, delivery and improvement, and in the development of both the clinical and cultural competency of the workforce. She is a proud mother to three amazing and spirited children, whom she has the pleasure of raising alongside her husband of Cook Islands and Kiwi New Zealand descent. She is excited to be providing the Pasifika perspective on the group.

Published: 18 Oct 2021 Modified: 3 Aug 2023