Next month, 41-year-old Corey Lum will replicate Dame Whina Cooper’s infamous 1975 hikoi, walking and cycling from Te Hapua to Parliament in Wellington, stopping in over 25 locations and travelling over 1406km.
While Dame Whina marched for Māori Land Rights and equality over 40 years ago, Corey, who has made it his life purpose to promote resilience through adversity, will start a hikoi on September 14 to offer a different way to deliver mental health and local services to communities.
“This time it is for a different generation that needs to know there are things we can do for each other if we are aware of the warning signs - when someone’s body language, temperament and general behaviour has changed dramatically with no answer,” Corey says.
Corey, who was born and raised in Christchurch and now lives in Brisbane, is part of The Big Three – Thrive, Strive, Live - an organisation he helped start in 2017.
“This was when I began to give my all to help create awareness for those who live in dark and lonely places,” Corey says.
With the support of family, friends and motivational speaker Damien Rider, he started to raise awareness for neglect and child abuse by conquering mental and physical challenges, aiming to create hope for others and foster an environment where no matter what people face in life, they can grow from the hardships and challenges and find the strength to keep moving forward.
For Corey, his mission is personal.
“I grew up thinking in a world where by the time I had left high school that domestic, physical and sexual abuse was ‘normal’.”
After struggling through the first two decades of his life, Corey became suicidal but fate intervened and he got a second shot at it.
“I had the opportunity to change my life and I did.
“I survived and I took my second chance and I now live to help others and through challenges discover more things about myself and the people who had done the things they did to me as a child.”
After reading the 2018 Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction, Corey has seen a resounding message there needs to be more community involvement to help the public and government sectors alleviate the amount of administrations recorded in emergency and psychiatric services throughout Aotearoa.
“I believe to educate and offer resources to the public and people who have a personal interest in discovering the knowledge, in not only how to approach sensitive issues but to learn about the appropriate action, will see a decline in people needing to go to emergency services,” Corey says.
“It will also show whānau, friends, work colleagues and people who notice a change in someone’s character and personality, that they can be the first line of defence when it comes to being able to listen, offer the right advice and the appropriate level of urgency when it comes to an individual’s distress and/or duress.”
During the hikoi, Corey and his team will stop in towns and marae along the way, offering people information gathered from the Mental Health Foundation NZ and Le Va, and will include educational tool kits, responses to grief and loss through interactive on-line games and surveys to judge a person’s state of grief and offer assistance regarding suicidal tendencies.
Information and education around overcoming post-traumatic stress disorder from abuse of all kinds, to having learning disabilities will also be available.
“There is a psychological imbalance in New Zealand and there is a huge gap in who can access professional help - my goal is to bridge that gap,” Corey says.