Vesna Aroha Radonich

Ngāti Maniapoto

Vesna's Story

Vesna took up Waka Ama where her hearing disability wasn’t an issue. She went on to beat depression and win elite level sporting titles.

Mine came from low esteem at a young age; anxiety and panic attacks

I didn’t find out ‘til I was almost five years old that I actually had a hearing disability and that it wasn’t that I was a problem child. 

All sorts of things affect your mental health


You’re always looking for ways to be accepted by people

I went off overseas and got introduced to a lot of drugs and alcohol. I guessed I liked it because of the way I felt and my low self-esteem wasn’t there anymore.

Depression or anxiety is different for everyone


I told my mum and she said the one thing I needed to hear; “That’s okay dear I know what it's like”

Just to know that you are not the only one because when you’re going through depression you do think you’re the only person. And actually talking to someone; don’t think you have got to be a super hero and deal with it all yourself.

There are things that can help you get through


As an athlete you need to eat well to be able to perform well and that applies to everyday life

I wanted to get back to the sport I enjoyed, Waka Ama. To become successful in sport gave me confidence. I didn’t need anyone or anything to tell me that I was a good enough person.

There are changes you can make to stay well


That’s how good it feels when you come out; it just makes everything so good

Other people's stories

I started training

I plan my day

I created a safe space

I look for positive things