Renowned mental health advocate Mike King says work fixing the country's "broken" mental health system doesn't appear to have started.
He's spoken out in response to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who this week said the decision for him to return his New Zealand Order of Merit medal was his to make.
In a post on Facebook yesterday, King said he was sorry that he missed her at Parliament this week when he returned the medal, "but I understand with Field Days, selling EVs and cycle bridges to New Zealanders you had a very busy week".
"I note however you did have a chance to comment in the media about me. 'Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she stood by the decision to give King the honour, but said she never suggested the work to improve mental health services was finished.'
"There is a lot of work left for us to do as a nation, and that includes supporting people who are struggling with mental health issues. But this is ultimately Mike's decision and I respect that."
In response, King said he never handed his back "because I thought 'work to improve mental health services was finished'."
"I handed it back because in the eyes of New Zealanders who are being refused desperately needed help for their loved ones it seems nothing has been started.
"And I too stand by my decision.
"People are dying, Prime Minister and all your people are saying is 'she'll be right we know what we are doing'."
He noted how in the story he was quoting, Ardern also said "there is a lot of work left for us to do as a nation, and that includes supporting people who are struggling with mental health issues".
"Seriously?," he replied. "Work we should do as a nation?
"What do you think we have been doing? What do you think happens when you throw people dying for help into the street or worse still, don't let them indoors in the first place?
"We support them because you won't, so please stop inferring we are not doing our bit, please, and tell Dr Bloomfield to start doing his."
King earlier said how he had been full of optimism when Ardern announced $1.9 billion of mental health funding three years ago.
Now he felt let down as nothing appears to have changed.
"There was such a euphoric feeling in the air, full of optimism and hope and I believed with all my heart things were about to change, finally we had a Government who cared.
"Three years on I feel like we have let everybody down."
He wanted the Ministry of Health to fund Gumboot Friday - a programme King believed was more cost-effective and of a higher quality than the ministry equivalent.
"I am simply staggered that a resource that New Zealanders deem worthy of funding is being ignored by the Ministry of Health," King said in the article in the Herald earlier this month.