Brian McKenna

Brian was born and raised in West Auckland. He classes himself as a true Westie, with New Lynn being the centre of the universe (although he lived in Piha for 14 years!). His ancestors are from Ireland, England, Wales (via Tasmania) and Israel (via Eastern Europe). Although Brian’s ancestry belongs in those various places, Aotearoa is where Brian feels he belongs. He currently lives in Owairaka with his wife who is of Irish-Australian heritage and they have four children together. Brian loves surfing, bee-keeping and plodding about in the garden.

With over 40 years of nursing experience, Brian brings a wealth of experience to our rangahau. He began his nursing career in the far north of Western Australia supporting predominantly Aboriginal people. Then for over 20 years he has worked jointly in forensic mental health and university contexts. Currently he has a joint position at Auckland Regional Forensic Psychiatry Services (the ‘Mason Clinic’) and AUT as Professor of Forensic Mental Health. 

Brian’s passions lie in creating an understanding of the best possible positive pathways for those people interfacing with the mental health and addiction services and the criminal justice system. He strives to work alongside anyone to achieve such benefits, from service users, whānau, clinicians, government departments right through to international experts. Given both the over representation of Māori in such services and Treaty of Waitangi obligations, his mahi always involves working with Māori in every step of understanding these pathways. He believes it is only ever a team effort that creates a gain, with one example being his involvement in collaborative research to help end the use of seclusion in mental services. A qualitative study, this rangahau explored Māori clinical, cultural and consumer perspectives on potential strategies and initiatives considered likely to facilitate prevention of, and reduction in, the use of seclusion, with tāngata whai i te ora (Māori mental health service users) in mental health inpatient services.

In the same vein, Brian aims to help and add value to He Ture Kia Tika in any way he can. He brings invaluable understanding of the complex pathway for those with mental health and addition challenges through the criminal justice system, and is a great translator of what we hope will inform notions of ‘best practice’.

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