Former Maori All Black Slade McFarland is to lead MATES In Construction work with Kainga Ora to reduce NZ suicides.
MATES was set up in October last year as was Kainga Ora – Homes and Communities, which is a crown entity.
McFarland, stalwart of North Harbour, Chiefs, Blues, Crusaders and Maori ABs rugby teams, has pulled on a new jersey as he joins MATES (launched in October last year) as a dedicated Field Officer to help with new work with Kainga Ora, to provide its suicide prevention programme to build partners and also a key site in Auckland ahead of rolling out nationwide. Initially, three Kainga Ora build partners – Miles Construction, Signature Homes and Property Partners Group and Home – will provide the MATES training to hundreds of workers at building sites across Auckland.
The former hooker says; “After playing professional rugby for 16 years, including three years in France Toulouse, Lyon and Cergy Pontiose in Paris, I joined the real world of 6am-5pm working life.
“I started labouring and laying concrete, and have been active as a youth worker, workplace drug tester and a Health and Safety Officer. Now a Suicide Prevention Educator with MATES, I can’t think of anything as useful as helping our Kiwi men and women in the construction industry.
“It hasn’t been an easy transition with a young family and the workplace stresses, let alone life stresses that we all experience, but to have this job, to educate people that there is a serious issue in our community is really important to me.
“Change can only happen when the gift of knowledge around suicide is shared not just for ourselves but the wider community.”