New Zealand comedian, television personality and mental health advocate Mike King has been named as the Kiwibank 2019 New Zealander of the Year.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern awarded him the honour at the 10th annual edition of the awards.

Last year’s awardee Kristine Bartlett and 2014 winner Dr Lance O’Sullivan presented him the Kiwibank kaitaka huaki cloak, Pouhine.

The award celebrates people who use their passion to make New Zealand a better place for the people who live here, something King has been recognised for.

“Mike King is a wonderfully complex and compelling Kiwi,” chief judge Cameron Bennett said.

“His determination to shine a light on the effects and impacts of mental health, particularly among Maori and young people, is as uncompromising as it is confronting.

Mike King speaks at the World Indigenous Suicide Prevention Conference and Youth Summit in 2016. Photo / Ben Fraser

“His passion and total commitment challenges us to think again about how we address some of the most serious social issues of our time.”

A total of 448 nominations were received for the title and the judges decided King was the right answer for this year’s award.

King, the host of Newstalk ZB’s ‘The Nutters Club’ programme, has drawn from his own experiences and bought the serious issues of depression, alcohol and drug use and suicide into public attention, Kiwibank said.

Working alongside mental health professionals, King has provided the driving force behind many national initiatives to shift the way we think about mental health.

“Mike’s in your face, brutally honest and hugely funny. He doesn’t back down,” Bennett said.

“It’s that courage and resolve that makes him so relatable to at-risk rangitahi that others can’t reach. Mike King is a great New Zealander of the Year.”

Kiwibank 2019 New Zealander of the Year category winners:

University of Auckland Young New Zealander of the Year:

Kendall Flutey (Christchurch)

Metlifecare Senior New Zealander of the Year:

Dr Bill Glass (Wellington)

Mitre 10 Community of the Year:

Pillars (national)

Sanitarium Innovator of the Year:

Ian Taylor – Animation Research Ltd (Dunedin)

Kiwibank Local Hero of the Year:

Pera Barrett (Wellington)

Previous Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year winners

Kristine Bartlett (2018), Taika Waititi (2017), Richie McCaw (2016), Sir Stephen Tindall (2015), Dr Lance O’Sullivan (2014), Dame Anne Salmond (2013), Sir Richard Taylor (2012), Sir Paul Callaghan (2011) and Sir Ray Avery (2010).

Source: Newstalk ZB

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