TT Newsletter banner2.png

Kia ora tātou , 

We’re excited to be revamping and reinvigorating our community newsletter to bring you Tough Talk News! We’ll be updating you on our progress and asking for advice as we plan and work on Season 3. Thank you so much for signing up for our newsletter, which we will be sending every two months.

Team Update

Sunset from my house on Waiheke Island. No filter.

Sunset from my house on Waiheke Island. No filter.


Since finishing Season 2 of Tough Talk I have been living on Waiheke Island enjoying the moana (ocean) and ngahere (forest). I am privileged to be living with a community of friends (whānau) who inspire me to be creative, to learn te reo māori (the Māori language), and sink deep into te ao māori (Māori worldview). I am also spending my time doing a number of things I’m passionate about. I’ve been doing therapy with people via Skype, which is keeping me in touch about the reality of people’s mental health and wellbeing. I’m working on an exciting AI chat-bot therapist with Clearhead. I’m collaborating on a paradigm shifting project offering a new approach to learning and organising (more info to come!). I’ve just been to Festival for the Future where I got to talk to young people about retelling the story of masculinity. I’m feeling excited as the vision for Season 3 of Tough Talk takes shape through taking the time to observe what is going on in Aotearoa and the world at our current point in time.


Rock Climbing near my house in Boulder, Colorado

Rock Climbing near my house in Boulder, Colorado

Since Season 2, I am grateful to have gone on some epic journeys. I traveled around New Zealand, visiting Stewart Island, Fiordland and Mt. Aspiring National Park. I also visited Australia, Laos & Thailand. I eventually made it back to Des Moines, Iowa, USA which is where I grew up. From there, I moved to Colorado. It’s amazing to return here with 3 years of self growth on my side. This time around, I’m living on a beautiful self-sustaining property near Boulder. I spend my days gardening, working outside, rock climbing, trail running, cooking with fresh veggies, working from my laptop in my favourite coffee shop and enjoying our wood fired sauna.

The first time I moved to Colorado, I was 18 and I was scared. I was filled with depression & anxiety from a couple of experiences I had previously experienced

I set off on a journey around the world, to heal myself and learn how others are healing our planet. I had no idea how much that adventure would impact me and the rest of my life.

This time Colorado looks different, because I am different. I feel as if the sunshine is not only surrounding my life, but as if I am the sunshine itself. I have moments where clouds come in but I feel really capable of whatever life decides to throw my way.

I don’t feel afraid of the darkness anymore, and I allow it to come in when it asks to. I still make mistakes and am wrong often, but I just know that I’m human and I’ll learn from those, too. By recognizing that I’m always evolving, I don’t attack myself. I allow myself to be where I am and it’s the most empowering permission I have ever given myself. I hope that you can give yourself permission to be where you are too.


We’re considering two directions for Season 3 of Tough Talk. We would love to hear about what direction you think is best for Tough Talk. Please feel free to reply to this email.

One option we’ve talked about is to focus on workplace wellness. We would showcase the stories of people within their workplaces - the stressors they face, the ways they’ve worked through their struggles, and important factors that create a thriving workplace culture. This would involve getting sponsorship from companies within different industries.

The other option is to focus on bringing awareness to power and privilege and taking accountability for it. We would focus on asking a diverse range of males about their experiences with problematic attitudes and beliefs surrounding gender and sexuality; the presence of implicit, explicit, and systemic racism in Aotearoa; and the nuances of power involved in embodying the the body of a man. We would also ask them about the tools they use for consent and how they’ve become aware of and navigate the conditioning of their gender.


Over the last 4 years, I’ve been on a journey, alongside many others, of learning to see and break down my conditioning as a privileged pākehā male in Aotearoa.

In regards to being a male, I’m learning to be aware of how much I’m talking compared to women in groups, how often I’m talking before or over others, how often people look to me before women in groups, how comfortable I am at being assertive towards men versus women, how my positions of power may be influencing the way women respond to me, and the list goes on. For the most part none these behaviour are intentional, but that doesn’t make them ok.

Once I became aware of these behaviours, it became easier to see them in other men. It’s hard to call out other men, especially because I don’t want to shame them publicly. Maybe I just need to get over that because talking to them privately isn’t always an option and leaving these things unsaid perpetuates a harmful culture in communities.

It’s easier to recognise other men exploiting their privilege, and much harder to continually see it in myself. I’m getting better at some things. For example, if I notice myself talking more in groups then I stop talking and give others space to speak. The problem is that this doesn’t address the fact that I spoke first. I’m getting better at taking on feedback on about these kinds of behaviours from people without feeding into the pain of the inevitable ego bruises. I’m learning not to make myself the victim.

I’m also working on becoming more aware of the privileges I have as a pākehā in Aotearoa. Examining my own implicit racism is newer to me and I’m finding it even harder. There’s so much trauma from colonialism that it can be overwhelming to contemplate. The Western way of knowing seems to be causing so many problems in our world, from the disconnection of people with each other to the disconnection of people with the planet. I’m questioning why I feel uncomfortable in groups that have few or no pākehā in them. I’m noticing when I’m stereotyping people and trying to see them for who they really are. I went to a play about inherited privilege recently and it made me sick to my stomach but was also beautiful and inspiring. It’s a tough path to tread, but it feels easier as I walk it alongside so many others.

Ngā mihi koutou,



This month we are highlighting depression awareness. The first steps to improving your wellbeing is to be able to observe sensations that signal to you that your mood is being impacted, so you can change what you’re doing to improve it.

If you are somebody who could benefit from using these tools in your classroom or workplace, they are freely available on our website and encouraged to be printed off and used. If they've helped you, write to us and let us know! We love hearing about the different ways people are using the Tough Talk Toolkit! We also acknowledge that different tools work for different people, so if you want to discuss wellbeing in more depth then join the Tough Talk Community on Facebook.


We’re currently in the process of a rebrand for Tough Talk. The idea is to move away from a personal brand, which has been referred to as “boutique Sam”, and towards a peer to peer platform. Ideally we would like Tough Talk to become a platform for people to share the tools that work with them, so we can all support each other at the community level.

We’re starting to grow the Tough Talk team and will introduce new members as their work is released over the year. We’re beginning to get help with branding, graphic design, marketing, and video editing, and would love to find more people with these skills. We’re also looking for people to volunteer their time to help us grow into an economically sustainable organisation. We’re particularly lacking in business expertise and people who can navigate the funding world.

We’re looking for a production company to become a partner in the creation of Tough Talk Season 3.   

Finally, if there are any tools or info you’ve found helpful in you life then send them to us and we’ll share them with the community.


Sam & Kristina (and more to come)