Originally from Taranaki, a troubled start to life led Ray Knight into drugs and alcohol, stints in prison and thoughts of committing suicide, he said.

"From about the age of 15 to 16 I struggled and tried to commit suicide when I was in Australia and addicted to heroin," said the now 50-year-old.

"I've given that up now after a few stints in rehab, but still struggle with alcohol, and I want to do something to raise awareness and money to maybe give to some young fellas who need help themselves.

"I need to do this - in some ways it's a bit selfish - but I'm going to get something out of helping others, and if I can prove I can do this, it shows I could do anything."

He said it was about two months ago that he woke up in the early hours of the morning and thought he had to do this.

Since then he had begun approaching local businesses for support, and had also gained the backing of drug rehabilitation provider Red Door Recovery, which had helped him overcome his own addictions.

"They have said they will help out someone in need if I complete the journey - I actually have someone very close to me who has a problem with P and they said they would go into rehab if I do this."

Red Door Recovery founder David Colling confirmed that he would provide a bed and treatment for free if a suitable candidate was found.

"I have got enormous respect for Ray - I wish we could do more but we are happy to do this if someone comes forward who meets our criteria - they will need to be assessed to ensure they genuinely want to transform themselves."

Knight said he hoped businesses might also get behind his venture, maybe helping out with providing shoes, tents and sleeping bags, in return benefiting from helping a worthy cause.

Already, apparel store Taranaki Hard Core had offered to supply him with a couple of T-shirts on the proviso he stop in on the store on his way south.

The plan was to start the walk in September or October when the weather was warmer, and to journey from Cape Reinga to Bluff.

He said he would model the walk on the Netflix series The Kindness Diaries featuring Leon Logothetis who set out walking across the globe, relying on the kindness of strangers and giving back to unsuspecting good Samaritans along the way.

For young people out there who were struggling and getting involved in drugs, Knight said it just wasn't worth it from his experience.

"It's not worth losing your family - I can't go and see my family in Australia now because of what I have done and I do not want that for other people."

He said he was in the process of setting up a Givealittle page so people could donate online, and coming to the newspaper to let people know his plans was the first step.

"This is just the beginning of the journey of 1000 miles - you just have to start with the first step," he said.


Source: NZ Herald

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