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Surfing for Farmers therapy initiative offers ‘chance to step away’

The surf therapy initiative helping improve mental health and wellbeing in New Zealand rural communities will return to beaches across the country this summer and it has started already in Tairawhiti.

Surfing for Farmers returns for its fourth season across 21 locations.

It was launched in Gisborne in 2018 by Stephen Thomson and thousands of farmers around the country have taken up the initiative.

It has been going on Wednesday nights at Kaiaua, and kicks off in Gisborne at Midway Beach on December 7.

“Surfing for Farmers gives farmers and growers the opportunity to step away from what can be all-consuming business, get out on the water for a surf, enjoy a BBQ and share stories with others in the rural community,” Stephen said.

All equipment and coaching is provided free of charge.

“It has been fantastic to see the growth of it and as we approach the kick-off of our fourth season, we are excited to be back, bigger and better than last year.”

Over the winter months everyone has been busy organising all the logistics in the background, he said.

“It's amazing to see the growth of Surfing for Farmers running in 21 locations all over New Zealand coastlines.

“The mental health of those in the rural community continues to be an issue and it has been heartening to get such positive feedback from farmers and growers who tell us what a difference getting off the farm and into the surf can make.”

The Surfing for Farmers initiative is supported by premium sponsors Ballance Agri-nutrients, Bayleys, NZ Beef and Lamb, Meridian Energy, Jarden and Rabobank.

“I'm keen to see numbers grow even further this summer.

“Surfing for Farmers is for everyone.

“We hope our regulars will pick up a neighbour and bring them down — and for first timers, come and have a go.”

For more information on Surfing for Farmers, and locations, go to www.surfingforfarmers.com.

WIDESPREAD: Surfing for Farmers has now spread to 21 locations across New Zealand, and farmer surfers like Ian Matthews and Warwick Allan from Gisborne, pictured here on a wave, have been having a ball and more importantly, de-stressing. File picture