A Hawke's Bay resident wants men battling depression and suicidal thoughts to take a hike, literally.

Napier-based John Robin is 35 and he's been battling the "demons" of depression for as long as he can remember.

"I am a male Māori and I live in Hawke's Bay. I know all about the stigma associated with depression.

"The image of men is that they are too hardened, stubborn and no one wants to reach out for help. Men don't want to go to the doctor or councillors and talk."

Napier resident John Robin wants to help men battling depression and suicidal thoughts open up through unconventional means. Photo/ Supplied.
Napier resident John Robin wants to help men battling depression and suicidal thoughts open up through unconventional means. Photo/ Supplied.

Robin is part of a group called Men's Medicine, initially based in Australia which helps men fight depression and suicidal thoughts, through unconventional means and he is bringing the group to Hawke's Bay.

His school friend Watene Waenga and his brother Lino Hola are the group founders.

"We have a different way of working our way through the black dog", Robin said.

"Brothers Wa and Lino [Lino Hola and Watene Waenga] created a more natural way of healing by getting these men to go out into nature for a 20km return hike.

"We want to knock down the barriers, push people out of their comfort zone and make them talk.

"If they get out into nature with people going through the same stuff then they tend to open up. As soon as we do the hike we become a group.

"It starts off being a walk with strangers and they come back hugging."

Group founder Watene Waenga said it was unfortunate that society had taught men to deal with life and its many obstacles on their own.


"When life throws obstacles at us we deal with it on our own. We are taught that it is weak to ask for help and/or share our feelings/emotions with others."

He said Men's Medicine was re-writing this narrative.

"We want to not only share with the world but also show the world that a strong man expresses how he is feeling. We want the world to know that it is strong to ask for help when we need it and to talk to friends rather than bottling all this up.

"Suicide rates not only in New Zealand but the world are rising and it is clear that a big part of this is due to what society right now deem a "strong man". Opening up, sharing and expressing ourselves will help alter the coarse of this suicide rate and decrease it. "

Men's Medicine has three core groups in Australia - Gold Coast, Sydney and more recently Melbourne.

The group will be setting up in Napier and Hamilton (NZ) as well.


"The reason we are bringing it to Hawke's Bay is because I grew up in Maraenui and for me there is no place that I have experienced that has a tough attitude like Hawke's Bay.

"I know how powerful this work is that we are doing and I not only want to share this with men I grew up with but it would also be a honour to spread this message we have on our hearts in the place I call home."

The date of the first 20km hike in Napier is September 21 with the location still to be finalised, Robin said.

Currently there are 32 men from across Hawke's Bay who will be undertaking the hike.