Symons Group brings Mike King to town

Mike King addresses audiences around the country on mental health.
Murray Wilson/ Fairfax NZ

Mike King addresses audiences around the country on mental health.

A Taranaki company involved in the transport and energy sectors is bringing a different sort of Christmas cheer to the region this year. 

Bell Block-based Symons Group is hosting a three-day roadshow by comedian turned mental health educator Mike King who will present his story of depression and drug and alcohol addiction in an effort to help Taranaki people solve their problems.

King is assuring the people of Taranaki he has no assocIation with animal rights group SAFE which is campaigning against New Zealand dairy farming practices.

King said he had never belonged to SAFE, did not campaign on its behalf and was appalled at its actions. He had never looked at SAFE'S website, was unaware he featured on it and has emailed spokesman Hans Kriek asking for any reference to him to be removed.

"Your portrayal of NZ farmers as 'animal terrorists' on the international (scene) are not only false, they are irresponsible in the extreme. The actions of a few is not a reflection of an entire industry, Hans, and one must question what your real motive is. Is it really about animal welfare? Or is it about destroying farmers and the NZ farming industry?" he wrote in the email. 

Symons Group owner Graham Symons said the company was hosting King's visit, in association with the Taranaki Rural Support Trust and Fonterra, as a way of giving something back to Taranaki, where businesses associated with the farming and energy sectors were under pressure.  "This can obviously have significant effects within families and in our communities," he said. 

"Instead of corporate gifts to clients, we decided to put money into this roadshow. At times like this, it's important to pull together, to talk, to share, to laugh and to make sure we support each other.

"If we can help someone out and inspire them to get some help for their depression or their stress, it will be worthwhile."

He also wanted to point out the presentation was not solely for people dealing with mental health difficulties.  "There'll be something for everyone to take away – for their business, their relationships with loved ones, tips they might be able to pass on to others, or for no other reason than having a laugh and a nice lunch."

Symons' comments were echoed by King whose visit for the roadshow will be his fifth to Taranaki this year.

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While King said he wanted to empower people to find solutions to their problems and to make it OK for them to ask for help, he also said the roadshow was for anyone just wanting to be entertained. "If you don't have a problem, come and listen to a funny story. And you'll also get some tools to help people who do have problems."

In his presentation, he'll talk about his problems of low self-esteem and alcoholism to allow people to recognise their own journeys and to be able to ask for help safely.  

"People should come along because everyone has problems. It's great to know you're not alone. It's a voyage of self-discovery," he said. 

Symons said King spoke to the company's drivers earlier this year and some had since sought help from him to improve their mental health. 

Working as a mental health educator through his charity, The Key to Life Charitable Trust, King presented his message in an unorthodox, yet engaging, way that resonated strongly with the company's staff. "Some were stunned, others were blown away and wanted more from him. He obviously pressed their buttons," he said. 

King will speak at Tikorangi Rugby Club on Tuesday December 15, at Stratford War Memorial Hall on Wednesday December 16 and at Rahotu Rugby Club on Thursday December 17. 

Symons Group is extending an open invitation to people to attend the roadshow on a 'first-in, first-served' basis as long as they register online at or or


 - Stuff

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