Dean is a proud father of four boys and has devoted over 20 years to working in mental health and addiction services, offering a Māori cultural perspective in policy-making, planning, and service development for individuals. He has extensive experience in crisis resolution, forensic, adult, child, and youth inpatient services, focusing on reducing restraint and seclusion incidents for Māori.
Currently, Dean works as Te Kaihapai Lived Experience Principal Advisor at Te Aka Whai Ora, focusing on facilitating transformative change to meet the health and wellbeing needs of Māori.
At the start of his career, Dean held various community roles, starting with Nga Hau E Wha National Marae, where he worked as a Māori liaison officer, engaged in student recruitment for training courses, provided pastoral care, and facilitated community service hours for at-risk youth. Additionally, he worked as a Pukenga Atawhai/Māori health worker for the Canterbury DHB’s specialist mental health service in 2005, collaborating with the community mental health team, crisis resolution, adult and forensic inpatient units, police, courts, and whānau/families.
In 2017, Dean was appointed to the Safe Practice Effective Communication governance committee and the Health Quality Safety Commission’s Māori Advisory Group, aiming to eliminate seclusion incidents. He participated as a panel member in the 2018 Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction. Furthermore, in 2020, he became a member of the Suicide Prevention Office Māori Expert Advisory Panel.
Dean actively advises from a cultural standpoint as part of an expert advisory group established by the Mantaū Hauora Ministry of Health. His commitment lies in placing people and whānau at the forefront of change initiatives. He is deeply passionate about enhancing the capacity and skills of the Māori workforce and promoting peer support within the mental health and addiction sector. Drawing from his own experience as a former consumer of mental health services, Dean identifies crucial changes to enhance service quality and achieve better health outcomes for Māori in mental health and addiction, while advocating for addressing Māori health disparities.