It was September 10, 2017. Hundreds were assembled on Parliament's lawn. Next to us - laid out in heartbreakingly neat rows - were 660 pairs of shoes representing each of the people who had ended their life in the previous year.
They were there due to the hard work of so many advocates and families of those lost, who had worked to bring to the public's attention the scale of our growing suicide toll.
Then Jacinda Ardern - newly minted leader of the opposition - took the microphone. Choking back tears she promised to review mental health and to make it a priority for her government. She committed to zero suicides as the only goal for any government she led "Because anything else suggests we have a tolerance for loss to suicide in New Zealand."
Standing there that day, in the sunshine among the crowd, I believed her. I believed she was going to bring transformative change to our crippled and broken services.
We all did, because we wanted to believe our work had come to something.
We were wrong.
After being elected in 2017, Labour initiated a review into the mental health system and it made 38 clear recommendations.
Fast forward to 2021, and released on the same day as the recent earthquakes and tsunami alert, and therefore lost in the swirling waters of the news cycle, the newly established Mental Health Commission released its review of the Labour Government's progress on the review's recommendations.
Despite the spin - and the very gently worded report from the new, understandably cautious commission - the news is not good.
But this won't be a surprise to anyone who has recently tried to find mental health help for themselves or a loved one.
In 2017 we knew the publicly funded DHB mental health services were breaking under the strain.
Now, even if you have the resources to pay for private treatment, there are long waits to see a therapist - because we simply don't have the workforce.
Just this week it was reported that compulsory treatment and seclusion is on the rise once more - phasing out this treatment is an accepted recommendation of the review. And of course, tragically, our suicide rate remains stubbornly high.
See, it turns out the real tsunami is a tidal surge of distress, fuelled by the stress and anxiety of living under the shadow of a global pandemic for 12 months.
And the Ministry of Health's response? Send out yet another public consultation on the details of a review that is now three years old.
Instead of more reviews and consultations, Covid-19 could be a catalyst to action, an opportunity to throw the kitchen sink at the problem.
So what would that look like?
It would mean providing fully funded training for psychotherapists, psychologists, nurses, social workers, counsellors and peer support workers - and bonding them to work in the mental health system.
It would also mean increasing staffing levels in all front line DHB mental health and addiction services by creating new positions and improving pay and conditions.
We need to make mental health somewhere people want to work again.
Alongside training more local staff we also need to throw open the immigration gates to any and all skilled people who want to come and work in our mental health system. What better time to invite people from around the world to come and live in our Covid-free paradise.
And in the meantime we need to utilise the private system and fund more treatment - especially for young people and those at risk.
How? Simple: pay for peoples therapy, via WINZ, ACC or emergency Covid funding. If the IRD can pay millions out in a few days to support businesses, surely we can pay for people to get the therapy they desperately need.
I want to believe Jacinda can be true to her word. But if we continue on the path we're on things are going to get much, much worse. And I for one will be holding her personally responsible, as she asked us to four years ago, on the Parliamentary lawn.
Where to get help:
• 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP) (available 24/7)
• YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
• KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757 or TEXT 4202
• NATIONAL ANXIETY 24 HR HELPLINE: 0800 269 4389
• Kyle MacDonald is a registered psychotherapist who works in private practice.