John Kirwan

Depression in politics – Is it the same in New Zealand?

The Sydney Morning Herald has an article about depression amongst their nation’s leaders.?

It is an interesting read and one written with compassion. There are some interesting parallels with recent events, but what struck me is the high prevalence amongst MPs.

It made me wonder if it happens here. I suspect it is similar.

Warren Entsch wanted to walk away. Wave goodbye to Parliament and never look back.

The Member for Leichhardt, a sprawling electorate in far north Queensland, is one of Parliament House’s big characters, a former toilet cleaner, RAAF serviceman, union representative and wildlife catcher. But now he felt so small.

It was 1999 and the Kim Beazley-led Labor opposition was hounding him over a Defence Force contract awarded to a concrete company of which he was a director and company secretary. Reporters staked out his family farm, begging his neighbours and relatives for dirt on him. His face beamed from the TV set of every airport lounge he entered, yet another politician drenched in muck.

“It was 10 days of absolute hell,” he says. ?”I was sick. I was devastated. I had to go to Canberra Hospital for chest pains. There were a couple of days where I couldn’t get off the couch in my office.”

Fifteen years later, you can still hear a crack in his voice. The anguish is raw. The past is never really past.

“I always feel for someone who is getting beaten up by the media ??what you go through from a mental health perspective is absolutely intense.

“For some people it is the final straw.”

Entsch, 64, always insisted he had done nothing wrong, and Labor eventually abandoned a bid to take him to the High Court. He made a vow: to help any fellow politicians who find themselves in a similar position.

“Whenever I hear of anyone in crisis or with conflict in their lives I am the first person to go support them.”

They speak about marriage breakdowns. Problems with their kids. Alcohol abuse. A scandal hovering above their heads like a giant wave about to break. Some MPs have admitted to thinking about suicide.

Religious or not, Entsch will often refer them to Peter Rose, the official Parliament House chaplain. Every federal politician interviewed for this piece mentioned Rose ? known affectionately as “the padre” ? and praised him highly.

“I have his number on speed dial and so do many MPs,” Entsch said.

Read more »

Depression and suicide: Sir John did us all a big favour

John Kirwan became the public face of depression, and we all owe him for it

If we can acknowledge that depression is not a weakness and suicide is not an option, we can change the world.

Those were Sir John Kirwan’s rousing words to a large audience gathered for the Westpac-sponsored ambassador’s depression and mental health talk in Alexandra yesterday.

Kirwan said attitudes to mental ill-health were changing, but not fast enough.

“Suicide is the end of an illness; it’s a tragedy and it leaves devastation in its wake.”

Knighted in 2012 for his services to mental health and rugby, the former All Black said his mission was to push for more government-funded campaigns, such as suicide prevention advertisements, to spread the message that death by suicide was unacceptable

Long time readers will know the Whaleoil crew have their own struggles with depression. ?For those of you who think we just need to snap out of it, be glad you don’t know what it is like. ?Once it grabs hold of your thinking, your brain starts to lie to you, and you are willing to listen. ? Read more »

Oh dear, look who is at the bottom of the list

Readers Digest has released their “Most Trusted” list of Kiwis…and predictably Willie Apiata is at the top of the list.

Politicians are as trustworthy as sex workers and Willie Apiata, VC, is – again – the most trusted of all New Zealanders, according to an annual survey on the country’s most trusted people and professions.

The 10th annual New Zealand Reader’s Digest Trust Survey revealed a skew towards sports stars and emergency service workers as those whom Kiwis put the most faith in.

Mr Apiata took out the top spot as the most trusted of 100 well-known Kiwis, followed by Northland doctor and champion of Maori health care Lance O’Sullivan and All Blacks captain Richie McCaw.

But look who is at the bottom of the list:

99. Kim Dotcom, internet entrepreneur
100. Hone Harawira, Mana Party leader

Read more »

Stephen Fry – Only the Lonely

Stephen Fry has written on his blog about his attempt to commit suicide last year.

There isn?t any point in denying that the outburst of sympathy and support that followed my confession to an attempt at self-slaughter last year (Richard Herring podcast) has touched me very deeply.

Some people, as some people always will, cannot understand that depression (or in my case cyclothymia, a form of bipolar disorder) is an illness and they are themselves perhaps the sufferers of a malady that one might call either an obsession with money, or a woeful lack of imagination.

?How can someone so well-off, well-known and successful have depression?? they ask.?Alastair Campbell in a marvelous article, suggested changing the word ?depression? to ?cancer? or ?diabetes? in order to reveal how, in its own way, sick a question, it is. Ill-natured, ill-informed, ill-willed or just plain ill, it?s hard to say.

Depression is something that no one can really understand until they have experienced it. People think that depression is a feeling of deep sadness…for me it is not anything like that at all.

But, most people, a surging, warm, caring majority, have been kind. Almost too kind. There?s something a little flustering and embarrassing when a taxi-driver shakes you by the hand, looks deep into your eyes and says ?You look after yourself, mate, yes? Promise me?? And there?s something perhaps not too helpful to one?s mental health when it is the only subject people want to talk to you about, however kindly or for whatever reasons. ? Read more »

Federated Farmers supporting a major programme to tackle depression among rural people


As is often the way in blogging, when there is something current, like David Fisher attacking me for being honest about my depression, along comes other news that supports the point I was trying to make.

There are those out there, like David Fisher, who think that depression is just something that we need to harden up over…take a few pills, stop having a sook and move along. ? Read more »

Mad Morgan now wants to exterminate Phoenix Fans

Not content with giving those left in his?under-performing?KiwiSaver fund reasons to ditch it, New Zealand’s foremost economist, philanthropist, soccer coach extraordinaire, feeder of orca and killer of cats, Gareth Morgan, has decided to shoot his other foot off.

The customer is always right Gareth? Apparently not with Morgan who has labelled Phoenix fans “pathetic” and unsophisticated because they want their team to stop being the A-League’s ‘open goal’.

If only the Dom Post had their sports writers doing the news because they would blow Kim DotCon sky high but then again, the sports writers got this by that time honoured tradition of listening to Radio Sport:

“The A-League club’s co-owner, who has admitted in the past that his football knowledge is limited, has also claimed that many fans “don’t know much about the game anyway” and are only thinking about themselves, rather than the long-term viability of the club.”

Good one Gareth. After wanting to exterminate half of your fan’s pets, you now call them drongos for paying good money in other to see their (or rather ‘your’) team get thrashed. You should become a motivational speaker:

“Morgan let rip at fans for wanting “instant gratification”. He said the club’s change in football philosophy, to a more attractive, possession-based passing style, was required for success in the long-term.

No, not if you a). Not have any fans, b). right-size to a public park to fit attendance and c). have decent players avoiding your LOSER team like the plague.

The DomPost says the Phoenix have struggled with this shift, “bizarrely implemented mid-season, and are last”.

Maybe someone ought to remind Morgan what Wellington said of the French after Waterloo (the last time the French put up a decent scrap), “They came on in the same old way and we defeated them in the same old way:”

“But Morgan said they would not be reverting back to their former style, which was based on solid defence and getting balls into the box from the flanks, for the sake of results. Fans would have to put up with “short-term pain”. The bigger picture is far, far more important than the short term,” he said”.

Sir John Kirwan should now send the Blues wooden spoon to the Hurricanes’ Mark Hammett (who must be searching for a new role) given St Gareth used his gains from flogging ‘his’ fund to KiwiBank, to get a slice of the Canes.

I pity the punters who pay money for merchandise, tickets or even, buying a sponsor’s product:

“All some people do is look at the league tables and that’s all there is to the game for them. Well, they’re pathetic really.”

Then again, Gareth threw a wobbly at Morningstar for calling a spade a spade on this erratic clown’s KiwiSaver Fund. St Gareth doesn’t like league tables indeed he is allergic to them maybe because it is about accountability.

“People expect instant gratification or gain with no pain. It’s just pathetic really. I can’t think of any activity where you change like that and there’s not a short-term cost as you go through the changes.”

How about your philanthropic trips abroad, TV appearances, mad schemes to ensure we get overrun by rats and stoats, spending vast sums to fatten up Penguins, calling farmers ‘retards’ and wanting to form Gareth Morgan Farmers to rival Feds. That sounds a lot like “instant gratification” to me.

But he is not done. He goes onto trash the Club’s few remaining supporters as ‘thick’ and somehow thinks ‘his way’ will attract a new wave of supporters. Yeah the opposition to see how much they’ll win by. Can I humbly suggest he actually leaves the coaches to coach and the players to play:

“Fans are a cross section of the public, you know. A lot of them don’t know much about the game anyway and certainly, in my view, think only of themselves, not about the future of the club. This club has got a whole lot of stuff to do in order to be sustainable, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

This little angry man has a Caesar complex. Maybe we should introduce him to Michael Williams in Auckland – I think they would get on like a house on fire.

I never thought I would write this but “Bring back Terry”.

Cartoon of the Day

? the tipline

Tom Scott is in fine form:


? NZ Herald

So John Kirwan has been appointed as coach of the Blues…I’m still not sure about the wisdom of JK coaching a team named after the euphemism for depression, but there you go.

At least now they will?have?HOPE.



Tom Scott on the QB Honours


Face of the Day