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Sir John Kirwan Embarks On A Landmark Drive Across The Country To Change The Course Of Mental Health In Aotearoa

  • Sir John Kirwan intends to travel the breadth of New Zealand in a Land Rover Defender 90, holding eight community events from Auckland to Invercargill to raise funds and awareness for his charitable initiative Mitey.
  • The announcement comes in response to new data that highlights three-quarters of New Zealanders believe this generation of children are at greater risk of mental health issues than the generations that preceded them.
  • Members of the public are encouraged to support Sir John with his drive by heading to to text ‘MITEY to 2449 to donate $3

Auckland, New Zealand: All Blacks legend Sir John Kirwan has partnered with Land Rover on a landmark drive across Aotearoa to raise awareness for mental health – with an ambition to raise enough money to roll out Mitey to 40 more schools, benefitting 11,000 New Zealand kids.

Mitey is a fresh approach to teaching mental health as part of the New Zealand curriculum, enabling children to learn about it at school, every day, just like literacy and maths.

Mitey was developed over two years by the Sir John Kirwan Foundation with input from highly experienced specialists from the University of Auckland as well as New Zealand educators, teachers and clinicians.

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Provided free to New Zealand primary and intermediate schools, Mitey has already positively impacted more than 12,000 New Zealand children.

The milestone drive and ambitious fundraising target have been launched in response to new research that highlights almost two-thirds of us (60%) don’t believe we’re doing enough as a country to improve our children’s mental wellbeing.

71% of Kiwis think we need to invest in more school-based education, 70% believe we need improved government and healthcare services and 51% think it will take a cultural shift in the New Zealand psyche.

Sir John Kirwan commented: “We have some of the worst mental health statistics in the OECD, with particularly high youth suicide rates, and we believe it will take a generation to change this. Research shows us that if we can teach the ‘ABC of mental health’, consistently, to children when they’re young – they will understand how to manage life’s ups and downs, and they’ll have better empathy for others who may be having a tough time.”

“We have a hugely ambitious goal to raise $1 million for the future wellbeing of our tamariki. This money will allow us to expand the Mitey initiative to 40 schools, positively impacting the lives of more than 11,000 New Zealand kids. This is an investment in your children, your whanau and your grandchildren; and together I know we can make a huge difference.”

To help educate the New Zealand public on a collective mental health approach that starts with our children, Sir John will hold eight community events across July, open to members of the public, school community and mental health advocates to attend. These will be free to join at:

  • Auckland: July 1, 2.45pm at Ponsonby Primary School
  • Hamilton: July 4, 2.45pm at Endeavour School
  • Tauranga: July 5, 2.45pm at Bellevue School
  • Napier: July 6, 2.45pm at Taradale Intermediate School
  • Wellington: July 7, 2.45pm at Island Bay School
  • Christchurch: July 8, 2.45pm at Whitau School
  • Dunedin: July 11, 4.00pm at the Dunedin City Library
  • Invercargill: July 12, 4.00pm at the Community Trust South Centre

Land Rover has partnered with Sir John Kirwan on his endeavour, providing him with a Land Rover Defender 90 to complete the estimated 2,100km drive across the country.

Land Rover New Zealand CEO, Steve Kenchington, added: “We want to create an environment that future generations not only survive in, but thrive in, and are proud to support our brand ambassador and good friend Sir John Kirwan with this historic initiative.”

Mitey is a solution for teachers and schools without adding extra pressure to an already crowded curriculum. It has been developed so mental health can be taught as a subject in its own right. Dedicating time to teaching mental health in the classroom will help promote well-being across the entire school and its community, involving staff, tamariki and whānau.

Mitey also assists schools with staff wellbeing, community engagement and policy development to ensure mental health education is embedded across each school’s unique setting.

Sir John Kirwan added: “I’d ask everyone to dig deep and give what they can to support this important cause. I know we can do it, and I know New Zealanders will get behind this moment. Together, we can change the course of mental health in this country.”

To find out more about the community events please visit, and show your support to Sir John Kirwan by texting ‘MITEY’ to 2449 for an instant $3 donation.

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