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Doug Avery Evening

Doug Avery: the Resilient Farmer Shared his Story on Drought and Recovery

To be released 5 September 2017

Recently awarded a MNZM Queen’s Birthday honour in recognition of his services to agriculture and mental health, charismatic Marlborough farmer Doug Avery shared his powerful story at the CHB Municipal Theatre on 30 August. This event was made possible by the local CHB District libraries in association with Penguin Random House NZ.

Over 380 people heard how Doug weathered years of drought and desperation and overcame heart-breaking adversity to live a fruitful life and help others.

The Avery family runs Bonavaree Farm at Grassmere, South Marlborough. The farm has been owned by the family since 1919 so they have a deep understanding of the land and how it is shaped by the weather.
The eight-year drought, however, took a personal toll on Doug Avery, and he suffered terribly during those long, dry years. Doug’s farm was depleted and so was he - to the point of severe depression.
“There’s a huge difference between a broken leg and a broken mind. A broken leg is obvious to everyone whereas a broken mind is invisible and can represent such a lonely journey – but I realised it doesn’t need to be if the safety net is in place. The saddest part of it all is that anyone suffering from depression will become the master of disguise and hide it – which I did”, says Doug.
Doug referred to depression not as a weakness but an illness that affects some of the most amazing thinkers of this country. He talked about the importance of early intervention and emphasised the need to grow your emotional resilience.

“Resilience is a journey of travel and you can keep building and building resilience and we need to keep learning”.

Everyone experiences some form of disruption in their lives and Doug pointed out the importance of how we address disruption – do we turn away or do we join together and work together. He encouraged everyone to invest more time in themselves so they can be there for others.

The Ministry of Health statistics show suicide rates in rural men aged 15-64 are higher than suicide rates in urban men, and higher than the national male suicide rate.

The Safer Central Hawke’s Bay (Safer CHB) coalition is Council mandated and community owned and brings together a diverse group of agencies, organisations and community groups in the district who all working together to improve community safety. Community resilience and wellbeing is one of Safer CHB‘s focus areas and they are committed to working together to support people in our community.
CHB District Council is committed to ensuring our communities are resilient into the future and would like to hear from anyone who is interested in being part of local programmes and initiatives to address this issue in our rural community. Please contact Christine Renata, Safe Communities Co-ordinator at CHB District Council on 06-857-8060.

“There are so many people out there, whether urban or rural who are struggling with life as I did. My book The Resilient Farmer is for them,” says Avery. The book is available for purchase at Paper Plus in Waipukurau and a copy is available at the Waipukurau and Waipawa libraries.
He also adds that while the book is strongly around farming, his messaging is relevant to men and women of all ages, and from all walks of life in terms of how better to manage our mindset.
Doug would like to see a mentoring programme available locally in Central Hawke’s Bay, having a mentor gave him a helicopter view of his life.

“I urge you all to think about someone you aspire to be like. Having a mentor means you are not flying alone and can ensure you fly safe.”
To find out more information on the support services available go to
and search for the category and location of support required.


Authorised by Acting Chief Executive: Bronda Smith
Media contact
Ethna Renner, Communications Officer | P 06 857 8060 M 027 441 2652

26 September 2017

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