As a Joyologist in my lifelong quest studying the science of joyology, you get moments of intense happiness that register on one's joy chip.

One seems to develop a sixth sense toward others who are on the same good buzz mission, as I did last Gumboot Friday down on Masonic Park. A park, we have unofficially renamed Good Buzz Park, given there was a great buzz all day watching happiness in the form of hole-in-ones being scored by 20 of the 500 who had come along to support New Zealander of the Year Mike King and his good buzz kaupapa.

Mike's mission is to provide trained one-on-one counselling for youth struggling with self-esteem issues, and there were almost 4000 last year who weren't coping and considered taking their own lives.

Sadly 137 Kiwi kids could not hold on to their last threads of happiness and didn't come back from the dark place they sought solace in and 137 families have been left with the broken pieces of a puzzle they have to try to put back together again.


Some of those families showed up to show support for the Gumboot Friday kaupapa and to be with those who knew first-hand how hard it is to talk about losing a loved one to suicide.

One by one they stood tall for someone who couldn't be there with them – someone who had got lost along the highway of life and ended up taking an exit on a side street where suicide seemed to be the only option.

The highlight if you can call it that was when a mum who had never played golf before stood up for a son she had lost and sent her first golf ball or two down the bumpy half pie pathway, toward the gumboot sitting in the middle of a roughly mown green on Good Buzz Park.

None of us knew her circumstances, not until the ball trundled into the gumboot and her friend standing by her whispered to me she had recently lost her son.

This made the amazing achievement by a non-golfer even more special. A hole-in-one! There were high-fives and long hugs all around by the crowd who had gathered after hearing the good buzz of good people cheering for her.

Then the second ball was on its way, bumbling and bouncing down the 20m track on a wing and a prayer by all of us watching. One hole-in-one, yes we could all fluke a Hail Mary moment, but doing it again with the very next ball would be off the radar.

You guessed it, the same result.

She breaks down and cries saying it was for her son and she felt him with her.


We all tear up with a good buzz of boo-hoo juice knowing we had witnessed something magic.

Mike King when reading my text a few minutes later replies, "You just made me cry and now everyone is going, 'Are you okay?' " His reply to them, "never been better!"

The mum and her friend quietly slipped away with smiles soaked in tears, and we didn't expect them to come back for the finals playoffs for those who had scored a hole-in-one (there were 20 including Mayor Greg Brownless out of the 500 who aced the good buzz green).

And they didn't come back for the payoffs that evening; I guess it was enough to know their prayers were answered that day for their boy and it wasn't about the prize money and all about the kaupapa?

When you engage with families who have lost a loved one to suicide - especially those who have had a tamariki or a mokopuna end their lives at an early age - you start to get a sense of the degree of hurt they are suffering. You get to understand the importance of their needs for their tamariki to engage with an open ear of understanding. Someone who can help them reconnect back on to the highway of life before they start looking at early exits on side streets where suicide can sometimes seem to be the only option.

There is a common thread to these early exit signs that a trained one-on-one counsellor can pick up, especially for those struggling with self-esteem issues - as many or most of our teenage tamariki are in this era of instant gratification via social media.

Having one-on-one counselling is paramount as Mike King knows well and has been banging the drum and throwing the gumboot for if we are to bring the numbers down from almost 4000 of our kids a year who contemplate taking their own lives.

For the rest of us standing on the sideline of suicide we can only offer our support with an open mind and empathetic ear, sometimes knowing an act of kindness by a group of Goodhists on a Gumboot Friday down on Good Buzz Park is enough for now.

Sometimes life is a bit like a golf ball. You hit it with everything you've got and hope like hell it heads in the right direction. Now and then, it makes it to the hole of happiness as it will with Mike King's mission, and when it does, it helps make sense to the mystery of suicide.


If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.
Or if you need to talk to someone else:
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youthline: 0800 376 633
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (Mon-Fri 1pm-10pm, Sat-Sun 3pm-10pm)
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
• Samaritans: 0800 726 666