Kirwan to Kaikōura: 'It's good to cry'

10:15 am on 25 November 2016

Ex-All Black Sir John Kirwan is urging people in earthquake-isolated Kaikōura to ask for help if they are struggling emotionally.

More than 100 people a day go to Kaikōura's recovery assistance centre, for help with food, services and to share stories.

Sir John, a mental health ambassador, talked to residents yesterday telling them it was OK not to feel the best.

View RNZ's full coverage of the earthquakes here.

"You are strong, you are resilient. Keep looking after yourselves and find joy in the little things," he told the crowd.

John Kirwan in Kaikoura to talk to residents about mental health at the public meeting.

Ex-All Black John Kirwan talked to residents about mental health at a public meeting in Kaikōura. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

He said there were extra resources at the hospital.

"A lot of people start to get worried about their anxiety and fear.

"It's about normalising it instead of trying to bottle it up - it's good to cry, good to hug, good to talk about it - especially with the kids."

Penny Betts runs a store on Kaikōura's main street. She said the last week had been overwhelming.

''Red Cross have just been in here to help me clean up my shop. It's the first time I've been in it because I couldn't face it.

"I'm just trying not to get angry and impatient to wait for the insurance things to kick in. I know it's going to take time.

"I'm scared and worried - it's my family's future."

She would seek help if she felt bogged down with stress.

The Red Cross has sent a psycho-social support team to help people.

Team member Sarah Gribbin said simple things like hugging could brighten someone's day.

Red Cross Psycho Social Support team member, Sarah Gribbin in Kaikoura.

Red Cross psychosocial support team member Sarah Gribbin. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

"We had a young man come in who had helped out at the marae for eight straight days. He doesn't have a job and didn't know what to do.

"We helped him get in touch with the agencies which can offer him help," Ms Gribbin said.

People needed to take care of their mental wellbeing, she said.

"It's things like keeping a routine.

"Keep yourself active - go for a walk or a run. We talk about leisure and pleasure which seems strange with what has happened but actually it's really important," Ms Gribbin said.

Canterbury District Health Board's mental health initiative, AllRight?, said people should call the earthquake support line if they needed help.