Big kayak mission for charity



Twenty-year-old Brooke Hart’s taking on Lake Whakatipu with nothing but a kayak this weekend, paddling almost 80km from Kinloch to Kingston while raising money for mental health.

Despite having never set foot in a kayak until last year, Hart says she’s excited but
‘‘putting a lot of pressure’’ on herself for the upcoming journey.

‘‘I’ve done a bit of training on the water … probably just over 200 kilometres on the
water and 30 hours in the boat.’’

She’s expecting to contend with exhaustion, lack of motivation, wanting to give up
and a lot of negative self-talk.

While she hasn’t experienced any of these on the water, she’s no stranger to them in her daily life.

In 2019, aged 17, Hart was diagnosed with major depression and social anxiety, and her mental state forced her to drop out of her school.

‘‘I was finding life really hard and it progressively got worse over time and I ended up in the psych ward quite a few times, so my safety was compromised in that respect.’’

After rounds of medication and treatment from psychologists, Hart’s developed tools to help her through her illnesses, and in October last year was discharged from community mental health services.

“It’s a bit of a process.

“You don’t really want to admit that you’ve been to the psych ward, or that you’ve got this mental health diagnosis, but it happens to a lot of people, and I’ve learned a lot, which I’m really grateful for.

“I still have my ups and downs, but [I know now] that I can navigate that myself, and [have] more confidence in myself to do that.”

Metaphorical challenge: Brooke Hart trains on Lake Whakatipu

Hart decided kayaking Lake Whakatipu would act as a good metaphor for the physical and mental challenge she’s faced improving her mental health.

Accompanied by a boat of support crew, thanks to Peter Excell Building, Hart says it’s OK if she doesn’t finish, it’s raising awareness that counts.

She’s going to donate money raised to mental health services I Am Hope, Voices of Hope, Lifeline and Mental Health Foundation New Zealand.

‘‘When I give the money, I’m going to stress that I want them to use it for early intervention, because normally you only get help when you reach crisis level and I think that needs to be changed.

‘‘If you catch it an an earlier stage it’s a lot easier for the people helping and the person who’s struggling.’’

Hart is fundraising through Givealittle: