Mike King calls for health ministry No 2 official's resignation over Gumboot Friday claim

updated By Te Ao - Māori News

I AM HOPE founder and mental health advocate Mike King has fired back at the health ministry's deputy chief executive Robyn Shearer in the latest war of words over funding for King's Gumboot Friday charity.

In a statement released today, Gumboot Friday submitted an application to the health ministry under the Official Information Act, to obtain a copy of its “application for funding” that Shearer says “missed the deadline”. 

In an online meeting to discuss funding options and processes last month, King’s representatives were told there would be no funding for Gumboot Friday.

Later reports had Shearer saying Gumboot Friday was declined funding as the charity missed the funding application deadline, something that King says is "news to us because we never applied".

"We have never put an application forward. This is a complete fabrication to make me and my organisation look incompetent,” King says.

'Made-up story'

“Robyn Shearer has never seen my signature on an application because there isn’t one, it’s a made-up story and the OIA will prove that. I would love to know what the Minister of Health thinks about his officials lying to the New Zealand public and what he will do about it," King says.

King is calling for Shearer's resignation for misleading the New Zealand public.

Recently King's charity has raised $943,000 from its first Gumboot Friday held in May, which he says provides three months of free counselling services for young people in need of help.

His team are considering doing a second event to reach the charity's $5 million goal, on November 5, if Mike King's video plea to New Zealanders reaches 50,000 shares.

Ministry response

Shearer responded late this afternoon with a statement that ignored King's demand for her resignation.

"We have had discussions with Mr King and his representatives about funding opportunities. These discussions were held outside of planned procurement processes and Mr King is correct in saying that he, or his organisations, had not previously submitted a formal application for funding.

"We have not said that a funding deadline had been missed. However, we could have been clearer that these were discussions rather than a formal application for funding.

"We run government-prescribed procurement processes. These are required to be fair, open, transparent and equitable for any organisation applying for funds.

"To be able to fund any organisation or service, we need to have requests for funding come through a process that is designed to be transparent and fair," her statement said

If you are concerned about someone who may need help, contact Lifeline 0800 543 354 or the Suicide Crisis Helpline 0508 TAUTOKO.