TV presenter turned sheep and beef farmer, Matt Chisholm, has signed on as the inaugural Ambassador for Rural Support Trust. He kicks off his ambassadorship role with a nationwide tour talking to rural communities on the topic of mental wellness and resilience.
Chisholm has shared openly about his mental health struggles. Through the tour, he will talk about his personal experiences and how he found a way through.
Chisholm will visit rural halls on the Rural Support Trust’s Time Out Tour, starting in Southland on 16 June at the Otautau Sports Complex, then he’ll speak in Gore and Stewart Island on 17 June. The 2022 Tour is the first of three annual tours Chisholm will front in partnership with Rural Support Trust.
Key to getting Chisholm into the role has been Taranaki Rural Support Trust Chairman and long-time family friend Mike Green.
"Matt told his story in public for the first time at an event the Trust hosted in New Plymouth in 2020, shortly after the screening of his documentary, Man Enough.
"Matt’s role as our Ambassador is about remaining mentally resilient through tough times. We’ve partnered with him because we feel strongly he has an important message to share with rural people, to give hope that there is a way through whatever difficulties individuals and families may be facing,” Green said.
Chisholm’s battles are documented in Imposter, a book he published last year, and documentaries Like a Man and Man Enough, both supported by the Mental Health Foundation.
Speaking of his Ambassadorship role, Chisholm says, “I like the good work the Rural Support Trust does – largely behind the scenes. I want people to understand how the Trust can help them in their communities, so more people can access their services when they need it most.”
Chisholm said his key message to anyone struggling with such pressure was to ask for help. “Instead of having a conversation with yourself, go and talk to someone. Take that first step and life will change.”
“Life can be infinitely greater than what it is now. Often the best of times come after the worst of times.”
Chisholm said his heart was in rural New Zealand. “I’m passionate about the country, about farmers and about mental health. So this role is a perfect fit for me.”
Brought up in Otago, Chisholm left TVNZ in 2019 to go farming on a 29-hectare block at Chatto Creek, near Alexandra in Central Otago. However, he still hosts the reality show Celebrity Treasure Island and does other television work.
“It's been beaut returning to my rural roots. I've started a Southdown sheep stud and I'm going to breed some Speckle Park cattle. Life's busy with my TV work and a young family, but I want to be able to give back where I can,” he said,
To attend the Time Out Tour at a venue near you, register on the website https://www.rural-support.org.nz/