Sir John Kirwan tackling depression in rural South Island

Luke Parker
Sir John Kirwan tackling depression in rural South Island

Sir John Kirwan is heading to South Island community halls and rural schools to share his personal story and message around depression, hope, and mental health.

At the events which focus on resilience and courage in the rural community, JK will open up about his own experiences in down times to farmers struggling with a tough drought and low dairy and meat prices.

SEE ALSO: Tuning in to your teenagers

Publicly outing himself as prone to depression has earned JK the respect of many rural types who, like the All Blacks, prefer to take the strong and silent approach.

He says he’s looking forward to sharing his depression anecdotes and meeting some of the farmers.

“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.”


JK's goal: no more suicides in New Zealand

“Youth in New Zealand and our rural sector have the highest suicide rates, so it’s not something we can ignore and it’s something I want to take on head on, and talk about this stuff because you can get through it and there’s a lot of hope out there if you reach out and go and look for it.”

The Westpac Ambassador believes one of the most important keys is continuing to talk about the issues.

“The thing about our farmers is that they are incredibly isolated with a lot of the challenges are out of their control – the weather, milk prices, sheep prices, interest rates, so it’s a very, very difficult industry.

“I don’t pretend to know what people are going through or what’s pushed them to be unwell, but what I do know is I’ve been there and done that, and a lot of the symptoms are the same and a lot of the recovery you can do is the same.”

JK says the idea of this tour is to stand up, be real, and have an honest, open conversation.

“We’ve got a road trip and a really cool itinerary planned so I’m really looking forward to getting out there. We’re hopping in a car and we’re going to 9 different areas.”

Those keen to head along are encouraged to register as soon as possible as there are limited seats available. 

North Island dates will be announced shortly.

SEE ALSO: Tuning in to your teenagers



Tour dates


Where: Tim Shadbolt Stand, Southland Stadium

When: Monday, 27 July @ 5.30pm - 7.00pm



Where: Geraldine High School Auditorium - 93 McKenzie Street, Geraldine

When: Tuesday, 28 July @ 5.30pm - 7.00pm



Where: Amberley Pavilion, Amberley Domain - 50 Douglas Road, Amberley

When: Wednesday, 29 July @ 5.30pm - 7.00pm


RSVP: RSVP essential, limited seats available.

Light snacks served on arrival.

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