Mental health advocate Mike King has been named Kiwibank 2019 New Zealander of the Year.
King received the award from the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern. He was also presented the Kiwibank kaitaka huaki cloak, Pouhine, by 2018 New Zealander of the Year Kristine Bartlett and 2014 winner Dr Lance O’Sullivan.
Drawing from his own personal experiences, King has brought the serious issues of depression, alcohol and drug abuse and suicide to public attention.
His leadership and courage has opened channels for those vulnerable to be heard and helped while also shifting the public's perceptions on these important issues.
Working alongside other mental health professionals, King has been the driving force of many initiatives including the Key to Life Charitable Trust and The Nutters Club.
Other finalists for the title of Kiwibank 2019 New Zealander of the Year were tobacco harm reduction advocate Marewa Glover and Eat My Lunch founder Lisa King.
The award's chief judge Cameron Bennett says, “Mike King is a wonderfully complex and compelling Kiwi. His determination to shine a light on the affects and impacts of mental health, particularly among Maori and young people, is as uncompromising as it is confronting.
“His passion and total commitment challenges us to think again about how we address some of the most serious social issues of our time.
“Mike's in your face, brutally honest and hugely funny. He doesn't back down. It's that courage and resolve that makes him so relatable to at-risk rangatahi that others can't reach. Mike King is a great New Zealander of the Year.”
In 2018, King and several others toured Aotearoa by scooter to promote mental health awareness. They visited around 45 schools and addressed 20,000 people.
- University of Auckland Young New Zealander of the Year: Kendall Flutey (Christchurch)
- Metlifecare Senior New Zealander of the Year: Dr Bill Glass (Wellington)
- Mitre 10 Community of the Year: Pillars (national)
- Sanitarium Innovator of the Year: Ian Taylor – Animation Research Ltd (Dunedin)
- Kiwibank Local Hero of the Year: Pera Barrett (Wellington)