Talking about personal wellbeing was on the agenda when a group of lucky kiwifruit industry members met with an All Black to discuss mental health and self-care.

All Black lock and Crusaders captain Sam Whitelock spoke to a group of kiwifruit growers and industry members about the importance of personal wellbeing.

The visit was organised by Farmstrong, a rural health and well-being programme run by the Mental Health Foundation, FMG and ACC, where Whitelock is an ambassador.

Whitelock said he had been motivated to become an ambassador after seeing people react to stress in positive and negative ways while growing up on a dairy farm.


It was vital for people to talk about things that were bothering them and that people properly listened to others when they shared their concerns, he said.

"A problem shared is a problem halved."

Everyone's jobs had busy periods, such as the upcoming harvest season for kiwifruit growers and harvesters, so it was important people planned regular breaks throughout the day and extended holidays to help them unwind, Whitelock said.

Farmlands Te Puna technical adviser Alex Ashe, who attended the meeting, said the unpredictable nature of the work could add to the stress.

"You can't control the weather."

Ashe, who took out the Bay of Plenty Young Fruit Grower 2019 award, said finding suitable labour for harvest season could also be a major stress factor for kiwifruit growers.

Kiwifruit grower Mike Smith said stress was part of the job.

Harvest time was incredibly busy - from hiring enough and suitable labour to providing portaloos - and this could add up to be a stressful period.


Kiwifruit grower Trent Ellison attended the meeting and said setting priorities was important otherwise family and business could suffer.

NZ Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated communications manager Mike Murphy said everyone suffered from stress and it was important neighbours and communities look out for one another.

This was highlighted after the "devastating time" when PSA hit the Bay of Plenty region, he said.

It was great to have an All Black share the importance of well-being with the group, Murphy said.

Farmstrong national sponsorship and events manager Michelle Stevens said the initiative was designed to help farmers and growers flourish.