Real Life

Michaiah Simmons’ brave battle that lead her to the I Am Hope foundation

After her own struggles with mental health, the Auckland events manager is delighted to be working with Mike King’s foundation

Most of us dream of finding jobs that perfectly align with our skills and life experiences. So when Michaiah Simmons landed a role last year as event manager for comedian Mike King’s I Am Hope mental health foundation, she couldn’t have imagined a better fit.

Not only has the 39-year-old spent two decades in the event management business, but Michaiah has also struggled with her own mental health, including trying to end her life as a teenager.

“I grew up the oldest of seven in a deeply religious household,” Michaiah explains from the Auckland home she shares with her two Italian greyhounds, Romeo and Julius.

“I had great parents who homeschooled us, but they were narrow-minded, so when my first relationship was with a girl, my mother couldn’t handle it. I ran away from home when I was 15.”

Forced to fend for herself, Michaiah found work in the fashion industry, eventually putting herself through pattern- making and sewing courses.

But when a relationship ended, she tried to throw herself off a bridge.

“The police pulled me back over the ledge, sending me home with a script for anti-depressants and zero support. I was alone, incredibly unhappy and had to deal with it by myself.”

Alcohol was a way to blunt the pain and for the next few years, Michaiah drank heavily.

“Just before my 18th birthday, I woke up with a bad hangover, realised I’d done some stupid things the night before and decided I couldn’t live like this any more. I gave up cold turkey and even today will only have a sip of Champagne if I’m at a wedding.”

Always entrepreneurial – Michaiah started her first business when she was six, baking cakes and selling them to rugby fans attending games at nearby Eden Park – she poured her energies into starting her own events management business, Deluxe Events. At its peak, she employed 100 staff around the country and worked with clients from NZ Fashion Week to trucking firms.

Having been scouted by a model agency, the gorgeous blonde also spent a few years doing photo shoots and being a “grid girl” for motor-racing events such as Australia’s Bathurst rally.

It was through work that she met Logan Millar, a millionaire who’d made his fortune in the then-emerging party-pill scene. The couple moved in together and although Logan suffered from depression, they were happy, tells Michaiah.

But in 2007, almost four years into their relationship, Logan died suddenly in the couple’s multimillion-dollar home.

“Logan had fallen into a deep depression and was having business and money issues,” shares Michaiah. “He wasn’t interested in going to therapy or taking medication, but I thought we’d turned a corner. One day, I went to work but had a bad feeling, so I drove home and our bedroom door was locked, which we never did. I found the key and discovered that Logan had passed away.”

With Mike and his wife Joanna at a fundraising gala in Christchurch in 2023.

Again, she says, the health system let her down.

“I was given two counselling sessions, which didn’t really help, and was then left on my own. It was an awful time as Logan’s family didn’t support me and friends didn’t know how to help, so they cut me off. I was in a very dark space of grief, depression and loneliness.”

After six months of barely leaving the house, Michaiah realised she had to start over.

“I had some savings, but basically I was worse off financially than when I went into the relationship. I knew I was good at managing people, so I built myself a website and revived Deluxe Events.”

Along with the yoga and meditation she still practises daily, work was Michaiah’s saviour. “Instead of turning to drugs and alcohol, I used work as a survival mechanism, working 70-80 hours a week.”

All was going well until the global pandemic hit, shutting down all public events. Wanting to give back to the community, Michaiah found work managing a women’s refuge, and ran a drug and alcohol-free wellness festival.

But in 2023, around the time her four-year marriage was ending, Michaiah got the call that changed her life.

With I Am Hope ambassador Zoe Dawson (left) and clinical lead Carla King.

“I’ve known Mike King for years, and have a lot of respect for the journey he and his wife Jo have been on with the I Am Hope foundation,” she says. “I jumped at the chance to help fundraise for the foundation because I want to be part of a movement that helps get young people the support and respect they need.

“I only wish this level of support had been available when I was 15, instead of having to work through issues on my own. But there’s still a long way to go, and we really need to do better as a country to give our young people hope and support in their darkest hours.”

For more info, visit or text Hope to 469 to donate $3.

If you’re struggling with your mental health, text or call 1737 at any time to speak to a trained counsellor.

For help with alcohol or drugs, phone 0800 787 797, text 8681 or visit

For the Suicide Crisis Helpline, call 0508 TAUTOKO. In an emergency, always dial 111.

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