Zane Munro is the kind of guy that immediately leaves an impression on you – his eyes are friendly yet resolute, conversation with him flows naturally, and he’s got a calm presence. It’s no surprise then that he’s doing some great things for men’s mental health with his brainchild For All the Brothers – but we will get into that later. I met up with Zane on-site in the West Auckland suburb of Green Bay. Funnily enough, the very same suburb where he grew up. “I went to school down the road – there were no uniforms, and we called the teachers by their first names,” he tells me.

After a 14-year career in the print industry and a stint in Australia (he still holds a lingering Aussie twang), he decided to return home to familiar territory. He had lost his passion for printing work, he says, “I wanted to do something where at the end of each day I could walk away and be proud of it.” So, following in his old man’s footsteps, he started an ‘adult apprenticeship’, as a builder, and now works for JS Builders alongside owner and childhood buddy Jamie Stewart. “It’s the best thing I’ve ever done – you get to work with your best mates every day and enjoy it.” “All builders drive past houses they’ve built and proudly tell their kids they built that one – now, I’m that dad,” he says with a grin. “A lot of us males, we’re hands-on, we need to be hands on.” “When you’re in a job or situation you don’t like, you take that shit home, and everything around you tends to follow suit as well, even though you don’t mean it to,” he says, speaking with wisdom developed through experience.

“Two men walk into a bar. One says to the other ‘I’m having a hard time lately bro, shit’s just feeling heavy’. They both get a beer and sit and talk about that shit that’s heavy. It’s seriously that simple, let’s not overcomplicate it.”

So, what is For All the Brothers? “It’s a no-bullshit approach to men’s mental health,” says Zane. It’s all about normalising conversations about mental health with the mantra that it’s OK to take your feelings into work, feelings that weren’t previously tolerated in the ‘old school’ building and trades industries. Zane isn’t scared of talking about ‘taboo’ topics like suicide, drugs, or alcoholism. He wants men to discuss these things honestly. “I love to get on the piss and enjoy myself, but I had to learn that there’s a time and a place,” he says. “If it’s a nice sunny day, you might wanna have beers after work, but did you know about ol’ mate who’s struggling with losing his missus and doesn’t really wanna drink but can’t say no when it’s shoved in his face?” “I’ve talked to industry stalwarts and asked them how many friends they’ve lost to suicide. The response was in the 20s, 30s, or even 40s”. Zane knew that was unacceptable.

Zane started For All the Brothers anonymously with no real aspirations other than trying to help those grappling with mental health issues. He wasn’t doing it for the followers or to grow his profile. Quite the opposite – he was nervous about putting himself out there in such a vulnerable way, but when guys he grew up with began reaching out on the page, he felt the confidence to put his face out there. “The whole point is getting guys who wouldn’t otherwise talk about mental health to talk about it, and when you start talking about it you realise you’re not alone.” And now the For All the Brothers Instagram page has over 40,000 followers from New Zealand and around the world. Zane uses social media as the platform to spread his message – be it publicising a fundraising event, letting people know about speaking events, walks and group fitness sessions, or simply sharing a thought provoking quote.

Zane is the first to admit that For All the Brothers doesn’t have all the answers or tools. Instead, it is all about opening up dialogue with friends and finding avenues for confidential professional help. You can tell Zane genuinely wants to help everyone he can, and that has sometimes led to him sacrificing his own interests: “I had to put boundaries in place for myself. I got caught up trying to reply to every message, help every person, and almost forget about myself. The second you do that, your cup starts to empty.” It’s also clear he’s invested a lot of time and money into For All the Brothers since its inception. But it seems like he’s found the right balance now.

Zane with his mum after walking 115km in 24 hours to raise more than $20,000 for I Am Hope and Lifeline NZ.

Normally when we ask our Tradie Profiles what they like to do off-site, we hear about fishing, hunting, or other action sports. But Zane simply enjoys being outdoors: “I love to walk, love to run, love to be in the bush, love to be in the ocean.” I told Zane about my own deep-rooted need to go fishing every week or so. He nodded in understanding, telling me about all his mates who genuinely use fishing and hunting as ‘therapy’. And that’s the ethos behind the catch-ups organised by For All the Brothers – helping guys get away from the pressures of everyday life and connect with nature or get some exercise. Zane’s best advice for helping a struggling mate? “Pick them up and take them outdoors. Get them away from their phone or TV.” For All the Brothers isn’t a registered charity and works with partners such as I Am Hope to help fundraise. Zane recently finished a 24-hour 115km walk to raise more than $20,000 for I Am Hope and Lifeline NZ.

That’s no walk in the park (pun intended). “What’s coming down the For All the Brothers pipeline?” I ask, naively expecting some kind of detailed schedule. Apart from mental health month in November (for which Zane said there were some cool plans in place that he couldn’t divulge just yet) and more walks in the summer, Zane told me that most of the events and catch-ups are organised at short notice and kept informal. Only then did I realise this is by design. “For All the Brothers is just talking about shit, joking about life. We try and keep it as low-key as possible, as simple as possible,” Zane confirmed. I left Zane to get back to his tools (I didn’t want him to finish late on a Friday after all!) and walked away with a smile on my face. The world could do with a few more Zane Munros.