Sir John Kirwan (JK) played for the All Blacks for a decade from 1984 and holds the New Zealand record for most first class rugby tries totalling 199. In 1987 the All Blacks winger was the star of the World Cup campaign, running the length of the field to score against Italy.
But JK’s story is about so much more than rugby and life as a professional sportsperson. He has opened up to New Zealand and shared his personal story of depression, resilience and hope after struggling with the mental illness as a player.
His journey has led him to an active involvement with mental health awareness campaigns in New Zealand where he speaks openly about his battle. He has written two books, All Blacks Don't Cry and Stand by Me.
JK became a Westpac Ambassador in 2013 and with our support, continues to spread his message to help kiwis understand more about mental illness and encourage them to talk about it.
On Westpac’s regional speaking tours JK talks to packed-out community halls in our provincial areas. The energy and enthusiasm he brings to his sessions draws in crowds from far and wide. The feedback from those who attend is incredible and heart-warming. He literally saves lives.
The world-class winger is passionate about putting an end to youth suicide and influences thousands of school students in his role as a Westpac Ambassador. He also extends his knowledge to Westpac employees with high-energy seminars on coping with stress and the importance of mental wellness.
JK’s work in the mental health area has gone a long way to removing the stigma that surrounds depression in New Zealand. As the first rugby player to openly talk about depression Sir John Kirwan continues to prove himself as a true kiwi icon both on and off the field.
Westpac Ambassador Sir John Kirwan is embarking on a journey around New Zealand
Sir John Kirwan is speaking in community halls about his personal story and messages around depression, hope, and mental wellness.
At the events, JK will open up about his own experiences, and focus on resilience and courage in the rural community. JK says the idea of this tour is to stand up, be real, and have an honest, open conversation. “I just tell my story. Why would I be depressed? I had the perfect world. I was an All Black living a great life. And often that’s the first question you’d say to yourself, you know”.
“There are a couple of things that are really important for me. Firstly, depression, it’s an illness, not a weakness.”
He says one of the most important things is continuing to talk about the issues.
“We’ve got a cool itinerary planned so I’m really looking forward to getting out there.”
Those keen to head along are encouraged to register as soon as possible as there are limited seats available.
JK tour dates and locations:
- Gisborne, 8 June – Closed
- Moutere Hills, Tasman, 28 June – Closed
- Oamaru, 10 August – Closed
- Whangarei, 7 September - Closed
- Greymouth, 15 November - registrations open soon