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Lifeline’s 72 Club Meals: Turning tragedy into hope, connection into meaning

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Fresh on the heels of the Restaurant Association’s Wellness Action Group, and in the spirit of creating hope and meaning out of Anthony Bourdain’s death, Lifeline Aotearoa is taking its national fundraising campaign The 72 Club to a new, social level by inviting everyone, including restaurateurs to host a 72 Club Meal. 

Since September 3, Lifeline has been highlighting their lack of government funding, and as a result, how many of their critical, life-saving calls are going unanswered. Combine this with the Coroner’s latest provisional figures, showing deaths by suicide at 668 for 2017-18, and it’s clear more has to be done. Cue The 72 Club – a positive twist on the 27 club, whose members, including Amy Winehouse and Curt Kobain, died tragically at the age of 27.

Joining the 72 Club, means finding the courage to sidestep the stigma of reaching out when you’re losing the battle, having that conversation with someone who knows what they’re doing, and then going on to lead “a life worth living”.

Now, Lifeline has launched the peer-to-peer element of its campaign, 72 Club Meals, which asks businesses, community groups and individuals to do what they do best: socialise over food. Our industry is built on it. And it’s this kind of social connection that many Lifeline callers are looking for.

In fact, recently we heard how Dariush Lolaiy (Cazador) and Rebecca Smidt, his wife and business partner, joined with friend, Conor Mertens (head chef at Orphans Kitchen) for a collaborative dinner in honour of Bourdain, with all proceeds going to Lifeline. Here was a spontaneous gathering of friends, connecting over good food and turning grief and confusion into meaningful action so that others might find the help that others tragically miss. A 72 Club Meal before it was even coined.

And it’s not stopping there. Next month, William Mordito has booked out the Restaurant Association function centre as the venue for a 40 cover pop-up restaurant, specifically to host a 72 Club Meal and to bring mental health into the mainstream.

The momentum keeps building and you don’t have to wait for the likes of Cazador and William to do something. Lifeline is willing 72 Club Meals to turn into a Kiwi phenomenon, so they are inviting all of us, especially Association members, to pledge a table at their restaurants, as a few already have, which can be used in online auctions, promoted through social media and a select number attended by high-profile celebrities. The intention is to bring together our members with a national push to normalise support for everyone, not just those in our industry, and to the reality of everyone getting to 72 and beyond.

To learn more about Lifeline’s 72 Club, visit and to jump straight in and host your own 72 Club Meal with a free donation page, register now at

To pledge a table and to have Lifeline promote this on your behalf, email


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