From the front line to the back paddocks

Safety, wellness and resilience expert Lance Burdett tours rural New Zealand.

Published on Wednesday, April 03, 2019

It’s a long way from negotiating with hostage-takers to touring rural New Zealand, but that’s where Lance Burdett’s career path has gone so far. He’s about to embark on a tour of rural South Island thanks to a series of talks put together by New Zealand’s local Rural Support Trusts and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Founder of Warn International, Lance has moved from working for police and training with the FBI to dedicating himself to spreading tips and techniques for people to handle difficult situations by understanding what goes on in people’s brains – starting with their own.

At a recent Rural Support Trust conference, Lance presented to about 80 people who may find themselves handling a crisis in their roles supporting rural New Zealanders.


Lance’s messages resonated so well with the Rural Support Trusts that they have worked to get him on a tour to speak to all the regions.  Late last year he covered the central North island and was a resounding success.


“He’s especially good with our younger farmers,” says Katrina Knowles, Taranaki Rural Support Trust.  “It’s not often you have a group of young tough men and women sitting being told about how they feel why they feel, and the session ran well over time because they just wanted to keep talking with Lance.”


The Rural Support Trusts are made up of paid and volunteer rural people who are in each region, helping farming families get through tough times. 


Challenges such as weather, climate, biosecurity, financial worries and relationship problems can have a particularly strong impact on farmers and their communities.  Isolation and an inability to separate work and home life are just two of the factors recognised as causing different stress to that of our urban populations.  Farmers have higher suicide rates than city-dwellers and this is something the Rural Support Trusts need the skills to navigate as they get people into the professional help they need.

“Working with these rural people is especially important, because isolation can really make things worse if our stress is kept inside our heads,” says Lance. “We worry because we are programmed to manage risk. That’s how our ancestors survived – thinking about the worst that can happen and acting on it.

“The challenge for rural people is if they talk about their worries it’s often only with their partner or workers who have the same concerns, and it goes round in circles.

“It’s all about showing people how to control their busy mind, recognise how to use the drafting race in their heads, and get some tools to help deal with those negative thoughts.”

For details on Lance’s events go to or call 080 787 254 (0800 RURAL HELP) and select the relevant Trust for your region.


About Lance

Lance Burdett has worked with elite international tactical units across police, the military, emergency services, prisons and the FBI. With 22 years policing experience at the highest level, Lance has expertise in responding to emergencies and communicating in challenging situations. Lance specialised in suicide intervention and on predicting violent behaviour in his 13 years as a crisis negotiator and instructor for the NZ Police. 

He’s turned his professional experiences, his own mental health journey, and pursuit of understanding the mind into a not-to-be-missed presentation especially for our rural people.

Pencil in the date and watch for more information in your area.






Monday 6th May


South Canterbury RST


7.30am – 9.30am

(Lance speaking at 8am)

Timaru Town & Country Club,

99 Douglas Street,


Rural business people (bankers, vets, farm advisers) and farmers.





6.30pm – 9.00pm (finger food served)


Mackenzie Rugby Football Club Rooms,

School Road, Fairlie

Young Farmers Club plus farmers and farm workers



Tuesday 7th May



Open doors at 6.00pm – pizz dinner

6.30pm – 8.30pm presentation and Q&A

Dunsandel Community Centre

Rural Community


Wednesday 8th May

9.00am – Breakfast  cooked/ continental

9.30am – 11.00am

Presentation, Q&A


Rossburn Receptions

Spark Lane Rangiora


Rural Community



6.00pm – finger food

6.30pm – 8.30pm

Presentation, Q&A


Cheviot Trust Hotel

Rural Community



Thursday 9th May


Mid Canterbury RST

6.00pm – dinner

6.30pm – 8.30pm

Presentation, Q&A



Rural Community



Monday 13th May

Otago RST

Evening time TBC


Rural community


Tuesday 14th May

Otago RST


7.30pm - Sth Otago Town & Country Club



Rural community


Wednesday 15th May

Southland RST

2pm - Croydon Lodge

Gore – Croydon Lodge

Rural Community 


Thursday 16h May



Southland RST

7am - Breakfast with RPs in Gore at the Croydon Lodge


7.30pm - Central Southland College Hall







Rural professional (bankers, vets, farm advisers, CO’s, fert reps) and trust members


Rural community


Tuesday 21st May



5 pm


ASB Theatre Marlborough

Rural professionals and rural responders (session 2; RSTs, CDs, RPs, Health)

Whole community


Wednesday 22nd  May




Richmond - Nelson


Rural professionals and rural responders

Whole community


Thursday 23rd   May

Top of the South RST






Rural professionals and rural responders

Whole community



About the Rural Support Trusts

A network of 14 independent but connected Rural Support Trusts are made up of paid professionals and volunteers to help farmers, growers, their families and workers when the going gets tough. They are always available for a chat, guidance, referrals and direction to professionals if needed.

If more than a cup of tea and a yarn is needed, the Trust can connect with the right professionals for further support, including farming or business advice, financial information, health, mental health and counselling services.

In a natural disaster, such as a storm or flood, Rural Support Trusts work with Civil Defence, government and emergency services on behalf of our rural communities.









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