Going the distance
Tackling a walk to prevent suicide
Mitchell Perfect and Thomas Hanson are taking more than one step in the right direction — they are taking around 3000km of steps.
Mitchell, 22, and Thomas, 23, are walking the talk, hiking the length of New Zealand along the Te Araroa Trail, a 3000km trail that spans the length of the country starting at Cape Reinga and ending at the Bluff.
“Our project is called Walk to Talk — our main goal is to raise awareness and talk about the issues surrounding suicide,” Mitchell says.
By doing the walk, the pair hopes to get people out walking with them and be the people who are there to listen.
“We came up with the idea after a close friend of ours took his own life just over a year ago. He was messaging me a few days before with talks about completing a similar walk in the USA called the PCT.”
Mitchell says their main goal is to one day complete that in his memory.
“But this is our warm up. This venture is important to us because not only are we raising awareness for something that has had such a huge impact on us over the last year, but even if we can help one person that ripple effect will help hundreds.”
Mitchell and Thomas headed off from Cape Reinga on September 23 and made it to Te Kuiti last week. They are planning on the whole trip taking between four and five months, hoping to be finished around February.
As Te Araroa is an official trail, they are following the maps provided very closely. Mitchell says the support they have received has been huge.
“So far family and friends have opened their houses along the way and provided amazing cooked meals, but even the general Kiwi hospitality has been amazing through Northland and I’m sure it will continue.”
That includes both former Taradale High School students’ employers. Mitchell has recently completed his electrical apprenticeship at Roberts Electrical and Thomas Hanson worked at Black Barn earlier this year to fund the trip.
“Both workplaces have sponsored us greatly to complete the walk along with Kathmandu and Radix Nutrition.”
Mitchell says after more than a month in, the bodies are still waking up with pain and blisters.
“But it’s getting better each day so we can’t complain.”
He says the biggest challenge so far has been 90 Mile beach.
“Mentally and physically it was draining. Walking down a beach for four days with no end in sight was tough.”
The highlight so far has been the people they’ve met along the way.
“People from all over the world coming together for the same goal is something special. The feedback and support from everyone back home and wider New Zealand has been amazing — from simply liking our posts to the huge number of donations received for Life Matters Suicide Prevention Trust.
The pair has so far raised $5200 and hope to raise $10,000.
■ To make a donation visit their Instagram account @walk.to.talk or Facebook page walk to talk and follow the links.
Thomas Hanson (left) and Mitchell Perfect begin their trek along the Te Araroa walkway to raise awareness and funds for suicide prevention.