Mike King is blasting the Ministry of Health for its "blatant lie" that the mental health advocate failed to get his funding application for Gumboot Friday in by the deadline - arguing that in fact, he never applied at all.
In a video posted to his Facebook on Friday, King addressed what he says is misinformation circulating around the funding of Gumboot Friday, and urged people not to believe it.
"The fact is, I have never applied for funding for Gumboot Friday - we have never put in an application and if you haven't put in an application, it can't be late."
Previous reports regarding the lack of funding for Gumboot Friday referenced a statement from the Ministry of Health's Deputy Chief Executive Sector Support and Infrastructure, Robyn Shearer, who said King had failed to get his application in on time - something King says is a "blatant lie" designed to perpetuate a false narrative that he's "dumb".
"Please stop following the Ministry of Health narrative that I'm a dumb hori who didn't get his application in on time," he continued.
"I'm not stupid, we've never applied for funding."
He says he had two meetings with the Ministry of Health - one in 2019 and one three weeks ago - and was told at both there would be no funding for Gumboot Friday.
When questioned by Newshub on Friday, Shearer did not provide a direct response as to whether funding had been offered to King, but acknowledged there had been meetings between them.
"At these meetings, the ministry has outlined the procurement opportunities available and the criteria that need to be met."
Shearer says the ministry knows more work is needed in New Zealand's mental health sector.
"We understand that there is a need for increased mental health and addiction support across the country and, while we have made progress, there is more work to be done. We share the passion and commitment for this work and are working hard to put in place the transformation that we all know is needed."
She says the ministry recognises King and other organisations for their mahi.
"[The ministry] acknowledges Gumboot Friday, and a large number of other organisations, for their passion and commitment to the mental health and wellbeing of young people across Aotearoa New Zealand."