1 in 5 New Zealand first responders find it hard to ask for help.
'Why am I telling myself not to cry?': A police officer's journey to the frontline - and back
Jehan Casinader - Stuff
As a police officer, Donna Davis helped people to carry their trauma – until she was forced to confront her own. She tells her story to Jehan Casinader.
Late one afternoon, Sergeant Donna Davis was driving through the quiet backroads of Te Awamutu when her police radio crackled into life.
First responders say a broken ACC system is putting them at risk
Jehan Casinader - NZ Herald
First responders risk their lives to protect us. But the Government, they say, won’t answer their own calls for help. Jehan Casinader investigates.
Warning: This story contains references to suicide
If you ask Dave Rose to tell you about a bad day at the office, he’ll find it hard to pick one. In 30 years as a firefighter, he has more stories than he cares to remember.
You may recognise his voice as long running ex-radio producer for The Hits and rugby commentator on Radio Sport; Dave ‘Wardie’ Ward faced ruthless competitors, harsh elements and the struggle of being away from home for a chance to take home the crown of Treasure Island Fans vs Faves.
The show begins with two teams battling to avoid elimination, but ultimately comes down to individuals fighting for the title of “Treasure Island: Fans vs Faves Champion”, and the $50,000 prize for their charity of choice.
Wardie eventually made it to the Top 4 contestants and raised a total of $10,000 for Te Kiwi Maia. Ka mau te wehi! Awesome!
We had a chat with the ‘Fan’ of the show to get to know the humble legend behind the screen, find out why he chose TKM and pass on some words of wisdom to anyone facing trials of their own.
Can you tell us about yourself, so we get a feel for the real 'Wardie'?
This is a hard one because I guess I’m a quintessential kiwi bloke; I look rough and tough on the outside but I’m a marshmallow in the middle. My priorities in life are family first, and daylight second. I’m the proud Dad to two boys, Murphy (12) and Mack (10). We are in a blended family with Helen (my person) and her four kids, so it’s a return to a big family for me as I’m one of five boys.
I’ve volunteered in rugby circles for as long as I can remember. I’ve been a coach, referee, player, commentator, ground announcer, and a team manager in the Tasman and North Harbour Rugby Unions. For me, it’s all about giving back. Community is oxygen and the more we feed it the more we get back and I love helping people.
Right now I supervise the Container Terminal at Port Nelson, but dealing with TKM has reignited my desire to get involved with service people and first responders. I love the community and the volunteers who keep them running, and they all need supporting. I hope there will be an opportunity for my career to head down this path. I’ve had careers in radio, and shipping and logistics, and I was SO close to joining the Royal New Zealand Navy. I was accepted for the RNZN Officer Training School and the NZ Broadcasting School on the same day; I chose radio. If only I could turn back time…
Why did you choose TKM?
Several reasons; Helen is a new graduate nurse and, in my humble opinion, nurses could have their pay tripled and they still wouldn’t be paid enough.
We were watching First Responders on TV when I was cast for Treasure Island: Fans v Faves, and I was absolutely absorbed by these heroes and what they do every day. They dedicate their lives and their careers to looking after people. I mean, I love contributing to the community but these people are on a whole other level. When I saw the link asking for donations at the end of the show, it was a no brainer. I also remember Sir Wayne ‘Buck’ Shelford supported TKM on his season of Treasure Island and, as I’m also a dyed-in-the-wool Harbour lad, I thought I’d add my paddle to the waka and hopefully build on the exposure Buck provided for this amazing charity.
Why did you want to do the show?
I’ve been a fan of Survivor since it started in the United States in 2000. So yes, I’ve been a fan of this sort of game for longer than some of my ‘Vai’ teammates have been alive. I applied for the only two seasons of Survivor NZ in 2016 and 2017, and came really close. Of 8,000 – 9,000 applicants I made the last 20 - 25 TWICE before I was cut, so to get the call up for Treasure Island was a dream come true.
I actually like the Elimination Arena of Treasure Island more than the voting process in Survivor because it gives the contestants one more shot at taking their fate into their own hands. If it was down to a vote on this season, I would have likely been out very early on.
Can you tell us a bit about the show, how it works, and what you think of it?
Treasure Island is two teams competing for $50,000 for their charity of choice. Throughout the show the teams compete in challenges for rewards, advantages, and immunity from elimination. During the episode there is a challenge called a “Face Off” and the captain of the winning team chooses one person from each team who will battle it out in the Elimination Arena, where the loser goes home.
There is generally a theme; ours was “Fans” of the show versus “Faves” from seasons past. When eliminations get the numbers low enough, the teams merge and it becomes an individual game. Relationships are key, because if you don’t have them, you don’t have any info. No information means you’re not likely part of people’s plans, so unless you win an immunity challenge you may find yourself in the Elimination Arena.
What do I think of it? I think it’s the greatest social experiment on television. It has it all; competition, relationships, social strategy, drama, and triumph. What’s not to love?!
What was the most mentally challenging aspect of the show?
Being away from Helen and the boys. I felt guilty for not talking to them daily while I was away. All I wanted was for her to tell me not to be silly, and to go for as long as I possibly could which, OF COURSE she would have, but I just wanted to hear it myself.
Yeah, there’s deception and back stabbing and untruths and game play and trust issues, but that’s why we love the game. If you don’t have thick enough skin you should probably stick to watching the show instead of playing it, because everything you do is scrutinised by hundreds of thousands of eyes every week. And trust me, I’ve ruffled more feathers than most this season so I speak from experience.
Do you have any words of wisdom for someone going through something challenging in their own life?
Absolutely. Reach out. I’ll talk to you. I’ll listen to you. And, I will HEAR what you have to say, because you matter.
But remember: This Too Shall Pass.
If you’re not in a spot where you want to talk just yet, watch “Call to Courage” with Brene Brown on Netflix. You’ll need to watch it more than once, WITHOUT PLAYING ON YOUR PHONE, and really immerse yourself in it and absorb what she says, particularly the Teddy Roosevelt quote. It literally is a life changer. It changed my life for sure. Helen and I frequently say to each other, “The story I’m telling myself…”
It’s about vulnerability and how it’s actually a massive strength. No-one will judge you for not being ok, and if you’re just a little bit open and honest about how you’re truly feeling, you’ll be amazed at how things fall into place.
I speak from experience when I say that after holding on and holding on to something that’s tearing you up, then finally having the strength to let go, is one of the biggest reliefs and best feelings in the world.
TKM would like to extend a huge thanks to Wardie, Helen and their whanau and all supporters of this season of Treasure Island. All funds raised go directly to providing New Zealand’s Defence Force, First Responder and Emergency Service Personnel with rehabilitation, recovery and respite from physical or psychological injuries, received as a result of safeguarding and caring for New Zealanders.
Written by - Raine Thornton-Stevens