By Aiden McLaughlin
So, we’ve made it to Level 1 – well done everyone. Apart from border restrictions, life is pretty much back to normal here in New Zealand. We’ve even got rugby commentary back on the radio this weekend! Let’s hope fans turn out in their droves at Forsyth Barr Stadium and Eden Park as Super Rugby Aotearoa makes its much anticipated debut.
For all the positives though, they are plenty of people doing it very tough. Thousands have lost their jobs and for many more, the future is uncertain. Level 1 unfortunately does not wave a magic wand. In addition, the weather gods have been incredibly cruel in some parts of the country. In Hawke’s Bay, droughts aren’t unusual, but this year, farmers have experienced one of, if not the worst in living memory. Mental wellness in the farming community is a constant battle.
Hugh Renton has experienced first hand the impact that the stresses of farm life can bring. In August 2017, Hugh’s father Paul committed suicide. Just months before, Paul and his wife Marie had won the 2017 Hawke’s Bay Farmer of the Year award but a dry summer, followed by a wet and cold winter took its toll.
Former Hurricane Hugh inherited his rugby genes from Paul, a former New Zealand Junior and Colts representative who also played for Mid-Canterbury in the mid-80’s. Now, Hugh has gone to his rugby community to create an awareness campaign called ‘Rugby Muster.’ Hugh’s Instagram page states it ‘is dedicated to all of the hardworking farmers who are currently suffering from the drought in Hawke’s Bay.’ So far, there have been video messages of support from Sam Cane and Dane Coles and there are plenty more to come.
Coming soon after the launch of Sir John Kirwan’s ‘Mentemia’ app, it’s another reminder that people do care and support is available. Level 1 has arrived but struggles continue for all sorts of reasons. There’s no need to suffer alone though.
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