Comment: While gumboot throwing has provided unexpected highs for The Country's Executive Producer Rowena Duncum, this month gumboots symbolised the lows experienced by New Zealanders battling depression.

In the immortal words of Fred Dagg, "if it weren't for your gumboots, where would you be?"

I bet you just sang that in your head. Possibly even followed by the second line: "You'd be in the hospital or infirmary".

It's probably going to be stuck in your head for the rest of the day now.


You're welcome ...

But it was just so apt this month – where would we be without our gumboots?

Rowena Duncum's World Boot-Throwing Champs medal. Photo / Supplied
Rowena Duncum's World Boot-Throwing Champs medal. Photo / Supplied

Last month I wrote about becoming an accidental world champion boot-throwing contender.

While I didn't go on to claim the title, I did throw the mighty Skellerup Perth size 5 a personal-best distance of 31.38 metres to finish runner-up behind five-time world champion Eeva Isokorpi from Finland.

My parents were so proud. And yes, I've already added it to my CV.

Next year the world championships are in the South of France and The Country host Jamie Mackay has already encouraged me to have a second crack at the title.

Just watch this space!

Rowena Duncum in action at the Hilux Rural Games. Photo / Supplied
Rowena Duncum in action at the Hilux Rural Games. Photo / Supplied

So, there you go – without my gumboots I'd be still in Dunedin, not travelling the world representing my country. Pretty damn cool, when you look at it that way.


But gumboots have taken on a whole new meaning this month – that of symbolising the struggle that those suffering from depression face on a daily basis.

2018 New Zealander of the Year Mike King likened battling depression to walking through mud in your gumboots, day after day – something that farmers can all relate to from time to time.

Some of the more social media savvy of you might recall a craze sweeping Facebook earlier this year, whereby users added a frame to their profile picture and Kiwibank donated $1 per frame to Mike King's I Am Hope #GumbootUpNZ campaign, which provides free counselling to Kiwi children.

It was so popular that Kiwibank capped their donation at $20,000, before lifting it to $50,000 and then $100,000. By the end of it, half a million New Zealanders used the frame.

Read more: Mike King on what Gumboot Day means for rural people

Following on from this, the Gumboot Friday initiative kicked off and King and his team called upon Kiwis to wear their gumboots to work, school or anywhere their lives took them on Friday 5 April.

It gave wider New Zealand the chance to traipse around in gumboots for the day and aimed to raise over two million dollars.

That's a lot of counselling sessions for our young people – 137 of whom we lost to suicide last year. Shameful and heartbreaking statistics.

While it wasn't exactly slogging it out in mud, the move proved to be an extremely powerful tool for starting conversations and, if you're anything like me, thinking more about how much of a constant struggle it is for people suffering from depression.

They can't shake it off as easily as we can kick off our Redbands at the end of a tough day.

For more info and to donate, head to