Mike King has hit the road to travel the length and breadth of the country to raise awareness about suicide and mental health, but beyond the profile of the popular comedian is a young Māori man who is being groomed to carry on this mission long after the ‘I Am Hope’ hīkoi has finished.

Ezekiel Raui was with King as they visited Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Arowhenua for the first school visit to spread the I Am Hope message.

“Kua wareware rātou ko wai rātou. Ko te hiahia o mātou, o I Am Hope, ki te āwhina i a rātou ki te hoki kia rātou (anō), kia tū kaha ai rātou i roto i a rātou nei hiahia, ahakoa te aha.”

While still at high school, the 20-year-old first created a suicide prevention pilot programme called Tū Kotahi which was approved for Government funding last year. Now King has taken him under his wing and Raui hopes to do well enough to eventually be given the responsibility of leading King’s charitable trust, Key to Life (KTL).

“Mēnā taea au te āwhina, ka āwhina, engari ko tērā tētahi o ōku moemoeā; ki te tū hei kaiārahi mō KTL.”

Raui’s dream is in the cup of his hands, but it’s not like that for many young people who he says are under so much pressure from their parents.

“I te wā i rongo ngā taiohi, ōku hoa, i ngā kōrero kino mai ngā hoa (he) āhua pai. Mēnā puta mai ana ērā kōrero mai i o rātou nei mātua, kahore i te pai. Ko te kaupapa o I Am Hope kia kōrero ki ngā mātua kia akiaki.”

I Am Hope will tour the country, particularly to those small communities who are hit the hardest by suicide.

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