NZ sports stars team up to tackle tall poppy syndrome

September 28, 2022

On a week dedicated to raising awareness around mental health, some of New Zealand's most prominent sportspeople have joined forces with a not-for-profit organisation to tackle an issue that's become somewhat embedded in our sporting culture - tall poppy syndrome.

E Tū Tāngata is an initiative determined to tackle the “culture of criticism” it sees in Aotearoa with the goal of empowering Kiwis to “build a culture where every person is valued”.

“It's surprised me the more we've looked into it and done the research that [tall poppy syndrome] is not only alive and well, it's thriving in New Zealand,” E Tū Tāngata’s founder and director Jay Geldard told 1News.

“We're trying to encourage a culture where if you value yourself, anyone else succeeding is a good thing.

“And you're not threatened by that because it’s when you don't value yourself and someone else is doing well you sort of want to take them down.”

To counter that, he’s enlisted the likes of rugby coaches Scott Robertson, Joe Schmidt and Sir Steve Hansen as well as netball’s Dame Noeline Taurua and Jane Watson to share their own experiences with the mindset, compiling their recounts in a video for Kiwis to learn from.

“It's so fickle at the top end where a little lack of confidence does start to leave someone a little dis-spirited,” Schmidt says in one of the campaign’s videos.

“Just general snippets, snipes, little comments can try bring you down but we're all better than that,” Robertson added.

Geldard hopes it will be the first step in creating a healthier mindset across Aotearoa.

“If we can address the way we see ourselves, how we address others will change.”


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