New Zealanders confront dementia with NZ Herald and NZ On Air

MEDIA RELEASE 5 March 2021

The Brains Trust - New Zealanders confront dementia with NZ Herald and NZ On Air

Families and carers of people with dementia share their moving personal stories about the devastating disease in The Brains Trust, a new documentary web series from the New Zealand Herald.

One of them is New Zealand Herald visual journalist Mike Scott, who’s more used to getting other people to talk about their lives. In The Brains Trust the tables are turned as Mike discusses the impact the condition has had on him and his family with his colleague, journalist Carolyne Meng-Yee.

“Sharing my personal story has not been comfortable,” says Mike. “Being in front of the camera has been really tough. Talking about your upbringing and personal information is confronting and makes me uncomfortable and the fact dementia is a part of our family.  As my sister said, ‘it’s the shameful secret we tried to hide’.”

Mike’s father had dementia and now Mike shares his worry that he too might have the declining neurological condition.

“Kiwis don’t tend to talk about dementia much. There’s such a stigma attached to it, that when it gets mentioned, the conversation quickly moves on, maybe because dementia robs people’s lives. The person living with dementia, the people closest to them, their friends, everyone loses.”

 High profile public relations executive Deborah Pead shares her story with The Brains Trust too.

“I know with certainty if my mother had known what was ahead, she would not have wanted the pain of what’s happening right now,” Pead says in the series.

“Not just for her family to see her the way she is but her own life, it’s got no meaning right now. Mum has value to me because she is my mum, but we can’t have a conversation, she can’t recognise me, she can’t recognise herself.”

Over six episodes, The Brains Trust investigates the swiftly growing prevalence of dementia in New Zealand. It explores the lives of people living with dementia, their families and professionals who care for them day-to-day. It also features the innovations making life better for people living with dementia and the science behind early detection.

 Dementia New Zealand National Spokesperson Lisa Burns says dementia is the third largest cause of death in New Zealand.

 “As its prevalence grows, it is vital we do more to understand and plan for how we will manage this enormous health and social challenge in the future. As our population ages the numbers will rise from 70,000 to 170,000 over the next 30 years and it’s going to cost the economy an estimated $4.6 billion.

 “Just as importantly, right now we need to grow the conversation about dementia. With greater access to relevant information those affected can focus on embracing and celebrating life – there are still moments of joy to be found for people living with dementia.

 “This past year has been particularly tough on those in the dementia community, who were among some of the hardest hit by lockdowns.

“We have a number of activities happening across our local organisations during Brain Awareness Month to raise vital funds needed  to support services which enable people living with dementia and their carers to experience joy, triumph and friendship, boosting their mood and wellbeing,” said Burns.

For more information about dementia and access to support, visit If you’re interested in fundraisers and events during Brain Awareness Month, contact your local dementia organisation.

Anyone concerned about changes in memory or dementia are encouraged to get in touch with their GP, health professional or call Dementia New Zealand’s helpline on 0800 433 636.

 The Brains Trust launches on at 5am on Monday 8th March and has been made with the support of NZ on Air.


  • The Brains Trust: View The Brains Trust trailer NZ Herald.

If you would like to learn more about The Brains Trust, or would like to schedule an interview please contact:

Cliff Joiner, GM Communications, NZME, +64 212709995

The following are available for interviews:

Mike Scott, NZ Herald Journalist

Carolyne Meng-Yee, NZ Herald Journalist and Producer of The Brains Trust

Deborah Pead

Lisa Burns, Dementia New Zealand