She carries the rocks with her up mountains and leaves them at the summit for others to find.
“You are loved” reads one rock, hand-painted blue, with two daisies on it. The other side has a message of hope and the phone number for Lifeline.
When Kim Raines (nee Pryor) took her own life in August, Anna Scarlett started painting rocks with tributes to her friend, leaving them around as a means to work through her own grief, while also hoping she might lift others out of their moments of darkness.
Mrs Raines’ death came completely “out of the blue” for Mrs Scarlett, and the project was inspired by her friend of 20 years’ son.
“When Kim was in ICU, he had a rock in his hand, and another he had placed in Kim’s hand, that the two of them had found on an adventure,” she said.
That moment stuck with her. She wanted to do something to pay tribute to her friend, “and the amazing person she was”, and help other people at the same time.
Mrs Scarlett pitched the idea of Kim’s Rocks to her family and and they got together and painted rocks for her.
“Her beautiful family . . . got together after her death and painted rocks for me, and since then others, including myself, have painted rocks as well,” she said.
She added the Lifeline resources on the back and the social media hashtag #kimsrockschch so people could find the Facebook and Instagram pages where she documented the project.
Posting photos of the rocks on social media was a way of tracking the project, but it was also nice to receive comments from Mrs Raines’ family and friends.
“One of Kim’s sisters commented saying amazing, my daughter painted that rock and she said ‘it’s so cool to see it at the top of a mountain closer to Aunty Kim’,” she said.
She had also started to get a following of strangers who had come across rocks in Canterbury and North Otago.
“I received a really lovely [message] that talked about how this year had been tough on everyone and how nice it was, just sitting in the Port Hills in Christchurch and finding a rock like that, that showed that other people still genuinely care about other people, even when everyone’s had a bit of a rough year,” she said.
She has already left about 15 rocks around Canterbury and North Otago, many in places of special significance to Kim, and planned to leave about 10 more between Oamaru and Otematata this week.
“I’ll be leaving a heap around Oamaru, where we met, and in Otematata, where we spent holidays and her family still holidays, in the hope that her family will find them, and other people who need to see them, too.”
The rocks were always left in plain sight, never hidden.
“I feel like you are made to feel that if you’re struggling with anything you have to hide it. That’s why these rocks will never be hidden in plain sight to signify that if you are struggling with your mental health you do not have to hide.”
Mrs Scarlett and Mrs Raines grew up in Oamaru. They met at Waitaki Girls’ High School, and had remained close friends since then, both living in Christchurch.
“She was a bridesmaid at my wedding, we talked probably every second day – we were really close, she was one of my best friends,” she said.
Before Mrs Raines’ death, Mrs Scarlett had set herself a goal of climbing 20 summits in 2020. The Kim’s Rocks project provided extra inspiration to achieve it.
“I’d never been exposed to losing someone close to me in a way like Kim – and it devastated me. It was about getting out and helping my own mental health as well,” she said.
“The rocks have definitely been an amazing focus and something to put my energy into.”
If anyone finds one of Kim’s Rocks in North Otago, they are encouraged to photograph it and share it on the Kim’s Rocks Facebook page: facebook.com/kimsrockschch.
- Need to talk? 1737, free 24/7 phone and text number
- Healthline: 0800 611-116
- Lifeline Aotearoa: 0800 543-354
- Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828-865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
- General mental health inquiries: 800 443-366
- The Depression Helpline: 0800 111-757