New Zealander of the Year Mike King blasts 'sinking ship' mental health system

New Zealander of the Year and mental health advocate Mike King has demanded successive governments stop throwing money at a mental health system he labels a "sinking ship" and bring about real change.

On Wednesday, Mr King, a comedian who has spent the last decade working to promote mental health awareness, was announced as the 2019 New Zealander of the Year by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at a gala dinner.

Although his efforts trying to reduce New Zealand's high suicide rate have been widely acknowledged, King told The AM Show on Thursday there was still much to do to help some of Aotearoa's most vulnerable.

"Currently we are focussed on crisis, we fund crisis, if you continue to fund crisis, guess what, you are going to get more crisis," he said.

"What we need to really start focusing on is taking advantage of everyone talking, everyone realising we have to change our attitudes and let's start being proactive and start funding what we, who are in a good place, can do better to facilitate our mates that are struggling."

The Government is expected to announce changes to the mental health system in March, and while Mr King said he wasn't criticising the Labour-led Government, he believed its review of the system recommended essentially not anything different.

"They are going to throw a lot of money at a whole lot of different people trying to please everyone, and they are going to please no one," he said.

"They are throwing money at a sinking ship. We need to build a new ship."

Mr King said New Zealand currently funds the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, rather than funding services that proactively educate people about mental health and the need to support our mates.

"It starts in school, it starts with creating empathy among young people and normalising the inner critic, normalising that people are struggling, and make it okay for our mates to reach out."

Mr King also hit out at the Waikato District Health Board (DHB) following reports it was seeking a second coronial inquiry into the death of Nicky Stevens, whose suicide was ruled as "avoidable".

"Personally, I think that the CEO and the chair of the Waikato DHB should resign effective immediately, this is an absolute disgrace," he said.

"For them to turn around, because they didn't get the ruling they wanted, and to say [Coroner] Wallace Bain didn't do his job, Wallace Bain is one of the good guys.

"For them to try and sully his reputation, you are a disgrace, resign, you are a disgrace."

Mr Steven's family said they were shocked by the decision and criticised the lack of consultation they received about it.