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It shocked and, quite frankly, saddened me to see the gutter tabloid article on Friday evening written by the faceless, cowardly, Bay of Plenty Times reporter who refused to sign his / her name to an article that claimed I was ‘name dropping’ in sharing my catch up with my friend Willie Apiata, VC.

In light of the overwhelming messages of support I’ve had from the residents of Tauranga, and across New Zealand, throughout the weekend, I thought I’d give more context as to why Willie and I met.

In 2008, I was Executive Producer on the Documentary, ‘Reluctant Hero’, the story of Willie Apiata’s journey to winning the Victoria Cross.

We filmed the combat footage at the RNZAF Air Weapons range at Kiapara, which needed to be heavily augmented with CGI to realistically capture the weight and intensity of fire that Willie and the NZSAS patrol endured that night.

So Yes - Willie is a mate and, yes, he bought a hug with him, as he always does for everyone. What we mostly talked about was how I can assist him with his extraordinary initiative called ‘Post Transition’ - a social and business enterprise established to highlight and address some of the challenges faced by Military personnel as they transition to civilian life both at home and in the workplace.

For those interested, here’s a link to Willie’s nzwebsite:

However, it’s best captured in Willie’s 6 min video, ‘Where will the Bellbird Rest’ - which is worth watching:

Had the BoP Times picked up the phone and asked me, I would have transparently told them this is why Willie and I met - over a cup of tea and a hug.

It’s very disappointing that the approved an article of this nature at a time when mental health issues have such a high optic in New Zealand. Willie is working tirelessly to ensure we leave no man (or woman) behind in the vice-like grip of depression.

So, when Wille reached out to me, I willingly met him because I want to support my mate.

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