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Thunderbird Partnership Foundation

The Wharerātā Group

The Wharerātā Group is an international network of Indigenous leaders working in mental health and addictions. We share a vision of the near future in which Indigenous peoples sustain their optimal health and well-being and we contribute to that vision through strategic use of our Indigenous leadership influence on mental health and addictions systems. The Wharerātā Group was started in 2009 under the direction of Sir Mason Durie, who is Māori and professor at Massey University in New Zelant, as:

  • A newtwork to support Indigenous leaders working in mental health and addiction
  • A place to share successful practices in Indigenous mental health and addictions
  • An advisory body and partner of the International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership (IIMHL)
  • A leader in cultural competence in mental health and addictions policy, programs, and practice
  • An advocate and voice for Indigenous mental health and wellness around the world
The Thunderbird Partnership Foundation and the First Nations Health Managers Association, who are both members of the Wharerātā Group, are hosting the “Reconciliation in Mental Health” Leadership Exchange event for the International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership (IIMHL) that will take place in Vancouver, BC from September 21-25, 2015. Click here for more information!

We believe…

    Indigenous health and well-being incorporates mental wellness and is defined through our Indigenous intelligence and culture.

    Indigenous families and communities should and will have optimal health and well-being.

    That a pivotal right of Indigenous peoples is the right to self-determination.

    That Indigenous health leaders working in mental health and addictions is an essential role to articulate a vision of wellness for our communities, to facilitate cultural competence in all aspects of mental health and addictions services and systems, and to influence system change where needed.

    That effective partnerships with our non-Indigenous partners are important contributions towards our vision of optimal health and well-being incorporating optimum mental wellness.

    That as Indigenous health leaders, we have a responsibility along with other Indigenous leaders to identify and drive systematic improvements to positively impact the health and well-being of our people.


The Wharerātā Declaration was supported by the IIMHL and published in the International Journal of Leadership in Public Service in February 2010. The Declaration was written to document our vision of the near future in which mental health and addictions systems meet the holistic needs of Indigenous peoples. It outlines what is unique about Indigenous peoples, a systems approach to mental health and addictions which values partnership and collaboration between Indigenous and mainstream providers, cultural competence of mainstream mental health providers, and a declaration on the unique aspects of Indigenous leadership. You can either download the Declaration in the PDF format or view the Declaration online here:


Download the Wharerātā Declaration – or – View Online


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