Gumboot Friday Founder
IN A PAST LIFE...
Mike was one of New Zealand's most well-known entertainers, but that role has changed dramatically since the conception of the radio show The Nutters Club in 2009. The show evolved from Mike's own experience of mental illness and addiction and has become a huge success with it now airing Sunday evenings on Newstalk ZB.
Mike is better known for his work as a prominent mental health educator and Ambassador for both I Am Hope and the Key to Life Charitable Trust. He uses an unorthodox approach when talking to youth and wider communities, sharing his struggles with his inner critic and allowing people to recognise that everyone has problems and it's ok to ask for help.
Although suicide prevention is the big picture, Mike doesn't actively discuss it, choosing to concentrate on delivering a hopeful message and connecting people, services and resources within the community
For his contributions to mental health in New Zealand, Mike was named New Zealander of the Year 2019 by Kiwibank.
ON THE TRACTOR TREK...
Mike will be will be speaking at community events to open up the conversation about Mental Health.
To find an event near you click here
Cat's proudest achievement is raising 3 Awesome teenagers through difficult circumstances. Cat has spoken to over 150,000 people all around the world including 1,000 primary school assemblies in New Zealand and overseas.
Cat is passionate about giving people the tools to make the world a better place, starting with themselves and their families and their communities.
Her humanitarian work stretches around the world, from helping kids who are victims of sex trafficking in South East Asia, families and children in slavery in the Brick Kilns of Pakistan to microenterprise training for women in the villages of Vanuatu. Closer to home she has been a Youth Worker in Mt Roskill and spoken hundreds of primary schools in Auckland. She also is an industry expert in Anti Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism.
ON THE TRACTOR TREK...
Cat has a key role in the logistics and planning for the tractors and their drivers prior to the trek.
During the Trek, she will be driving her Postman Pat van to visit local schools with her engaging and upbeat Mental Health message while promoting Gumboot Friday. To find out more about Cat speakin in schools, click here
Phil is a dairy farmer, originally from New Plymouth: he has owned farms in Putaruru and currently Ohinewai - Huntley.
He resides in Auckland and is the proud grandfather of 17 grandchildren and 1 great-granddaughter.
FOUNDER OF THE TRACTOR TREK
At the passing of Phil's beloved wife Janice after 49 years of marriage, Phil was determined to do something big to thank hospice for what they did in her final weeks of life. The Great New Zealand Tractor trek was born and ran successfully in 2016 and 2018.
Always a farmer at heart, Phil became increasingly concerned about the horrific suicide stats for farmers struggling with mental health due to stress and isolation. Feeling that is was something he could really throw his energy in to, he asked his daughter Cat Levine, which charity he should support with his next Tractor Trek in 2020. Having recently made friends with Mike King on a flight to Christchurch, they all got together over a coffee in Mangere Bridge and joined forces with Gumboot Friday.
ON THE TRACTOR TREK
Phil is a key member of the planning team with Don Smith and Cat.
On the trek he will be driving his prize Mercedes tractor bringing up the rear of the tractor convoy.
At smoko break, you might find him under a tree having a powernap.
DRIVERS & SUPPORT CREW
Tractor Trek Team
It takes a team to get this show on the road, and a group of volunteers are dedicating many a Sunday afternoon pouring over maps and getting every detail sorted.
plus the team from Gumboot Friday led by Boris.
Getting all the tractors and their drivers from one end of New Zealand to the other is no mean feat.
John and Merleen are our dedicated cooks, always ready with cups of tea at each break, and a hot dinner every night. They have built a custom made trailer as our portable kitchen to fire up along the way
Sam Vea is Trek lead vehicle, navigating us along the right routes in the Humvee.
Without a fleet of tractors, the trek would be a bit of a non event, so we are grateful for the team of drivers who accompany us each trek. They all pay their own accommodation, food, and fuel, plus their own tractor. No free rides here!
Dave has even flown all the way from London to join us for the trek.
How it all started
Tractor Trek was born out of a vision by its founder Phil Aish at the passing away of his wife Janice in 2014.
2016 and 2018 he led the Tractor Trek from Bluff to Cape Reinga to raise awareness and funding for hospice.
Feeling that it was time for something new to get behind, he searched his heart for a cause deserving of support. He was moved at the pain of so many farmers suffering in the rural communities. Isolated and stressed they often suffered from depression, with no one to turn to. Some even chose to end their lives seeing no hope for the future.
Phils daughter Cat happened to sit next to Mike King on a flight to Christchurch and with their joint passion for speaking to the youth and children of Aotearoa - a friendship was struck. When Phil announced to Cat that mental health and suicide prevention was a cause that he wanted to get behind.... but which charity should we support, a no brainer - of course, Mike was the man we should be supporting.
The Tractor Trek team Cat, Phil, and Don met with Mike under the trees at Lucky Cafe in Mangere Bridge, and the match was made in heaven “Gumboot Friday Tractor Trek”.
The rest, as they say, is history.