Auckland film student tackles tall poppy syndrome in new documentary

One New Zealand media student has made it her mission to raise awareness about the tall poppy syndrome in New Zealand, in the hopes of kicking it to the kerb.

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Some of Aotearoa’s tallest poppies shared their experiences with Ayeesha Taylor. Source: Seven Sharp

It’s a subject many New Zealanders are all too familiar with, Israel Adesanya spoke of its toxicity when accepting his Halberg Award just the other day.

Film student and budding photographer, Ayeesha Taylor, has been on the receiving end of it herself. Instead of withering, she has made a documentary.

"I started to do some research, googling 10 influential and successful young Kiwis and eight of them referred to the syndrome and the impact it had on them,” Taylor told Seven Sharp.

She reached out to people on social media and received an overwhelming response of people who had been negatively impacted by it.

“I was blown away realising how many people this was affecting,” she said.

Her movement has even gained the attention of high profile names like actress Kimberley Crossman. The Kiwi star made her big debut on Shortland Street as a teen and knows all about tall poppy.

"I was a teenage girl on the telly and I would go out and people would pour drinks on me or be rude and mean, and people warn you, they go 'oh well, once your episodes air, get ready,' said Crossman.

"With success comes obligation to not be proud of that."

Taylor says there are still question and answer websites where people can send others hateful messages anonymously, powering the tall poppy hate.

“I've been called a try hard, or too confident, confidence is almost always mistaken as cockiness in NZ,” said Taylor.

"That's why I'm speaking out. It's getting passed down to future generations and it needs to stop,”