I was thrilled to see Mike King announced as “New Zealander Of The Year”.
Mike, in his unique style, has done a fantastic job in tackling the issue of depression and challenging us all to reflect on our personal and collective attitudes to mental health.
It’s also great, in a country where we often only reward and glorify those who are good at sport, to celebrate the achievements and courage of those who succeed in other worthier endeavours.
And just before the sports jocks get their undies in a bunch, I’m not saying sports is unworthy, unimportant or doesn’t have many great qualities. In its purest form, it teaches us all how to win, lose and the unfairness of life, which is something we all have to come to terms with at some stage.
But sport is still just a game and pales into insignificance compared to the rugged reality of our fragile human struggle, the fine line between sickness and health, and perhaps more often than we care to admit, life and death as well.
I haven’t always been Mike’s biggest fan.
Personally, I was underwhelmed with his comedy and I was unimpressed when, after taking payments from NZ Pork to promote their product, he seemed to do an about face, broke into a piggery with some animal activists and generated huge negative publicity by criticising the New Zealand Pig Farmers and their farming practices.
But while back then I was unimpressed with Mike, I am much more unimpressed with myself, who back then, with no knowledge of Mike’s character, thought processes, integrity or motives, and virtually no understanding of the factors that lead him to do what he did, formed my uninformed opinion and filled in the gaps to suit.
Now I don’t know if Mike was correct in his approach to the pig issue or not, only Mike will really know what his motives were, but age and a few kicks in the guts have knocked much of the arrogance out of me since then, so I am much less inclined now to judge others.
There is an old saying that goes “wisdom is proved right by her actions” and I guess, going by what Mike has achieved in the field of mental health, with sheer passion and determination, over what is now a considerable number of years, he has very definitely earned the right to be judged by his actions and he is in my opinion, very worthy indeed to be our New Zealander of the Year.
He’s helped a lot of people, he is still helping a lot of people and he makes me proud to be a Kiwi.
Well done Mike! Keep up the good work.