A growing interest among governments in policies to promote wellbeing has the potential to revive a social view of health promotion. However, success may depend on the way governments define wellbeing and conceptualize ways to promote it. We analyze theories of wellbeing to discern twelve types of wellbeing theory and assess the suitability of each type of theory as a basis for effective wellbeing policies. We used Durie’s methodology of working at the interface between knowledge systems and Indigenous dialogic methods of yarning and deep listening. We analyzed selected literature on non-Indigenous theories and Indigenous theories from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States to develop a typology of wellbeing theories. We applied political science perspectives on theories of change in public policy to assess the suitability of each type of theory to inform wellbeing policies. We found that some theory types define wellbeing purely as a property of individuals, whilst others define it in terms of social or environmental conditions. Each approach has weaknesses regarding the theory of change in wellbeing policy. Indigenous relational theories transcend an ‘individual or environment’ dichotomy, providing for pluralistic approaches to health promotion. A broad theoretic approach to wellbeing policy, encompassing individual, social, equity-based and environmental perspectives, is recommended.