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Whānau on Bus Trip to Heal Issues of Suicide

Whānau on Bus Trip to Heal Issues of Suicide

Five Māori families affected by the suicide of a family member are participating in a unique project in which they will travel on a bus from marae to marae, making their way from Taranaki to Cape Reinga. The journey begins today and lasts for one week.

At each stop, a new family will join the journey and at each marae the families will take part in wānanga sessions guided by Māori psychologist and filmmaker Paora Joseph. In the wānanga, the families will share their personal struggles and stories about loved ones who have committed suicide. Other families in each area are invited to participate.

The wānanga and the journey will become part of a film, titled Maui’s Hook, for which Joseph will also serve as director.

Following a similar “journey of discovery and resolution” format to his powerful documentary Tātarakihi: The Children of Parihaka, this documentary/drama feature film will chronicle the healing journey of the five families.

Drama sequences will be co-directed with Paora Joseph by Alyx Duncan (The Red House) and the cinematographer is Maria Ines Manchego, known for her work on Florian Habicht’s Pulp. Maui’s Hook is produced by Quinton Hita and Karen Waaka-Tibble from Kura Productions Ltd, with support from Te Rau Matatini – National Suicide Prevention Strategy, Te Puni Kokiri and the TSB Bank with Te Hurihanga Trust.

The trip journey starts in Taranaki and stops along the way in some of the areas worst affected by whakamomori (suicide) - Whanganui, Rotorua, Auckland, Whangarei - Northland, before arriving at Cape Reinga, the final departing place of spirits.

It is at Cape Reinga that karanga, waiata and karakia will meld into a single act of farewell – a goodbye to all those who have taken their own lives and forgiveness and liberation for both the living and the dead.

Paora Joseph says “Our ultimate aim in making Maui’s Hook is to provoke social change, dispel myths about suicide, alleviate stigma and bring down the suicide statistics in our country. We aim to achieve this by raising awareness and provoking discussion with the film.

Maui’s Hook explores the notion that in order for those who have committed suicide to be free, we who remain in the world of the living need to be free.”

Youth suicide is a national issue with alarming statistics. “Suicide and suicidal behaviours are a major health and social issue in New Zealand. Each year approximately 500 people take their own lives and there are at least 2500 admissions to hospital with serious intentional self-harm injuries”. (Ministry of Health 2012).

To help put this statistic into context: New Zealand’s road toll claims around 300 lives per year – 200 less than suicide.

About one in five suicide deaths in New Zealand are Māori. The Māori youth rate is about 2.5 times the non-Māori youth rate.

Kura Productions specialises in making Māori programmes for television, including Māori language teaching series Tōku Reo, kaumatua interview series Kōwhao Rau and Taniwha Rau, and children’s show Pūkoro for Māori Television. The company also produced the successful feature film Mt Zion

The suicide rate in New Zealand adults is comparative to international statistics however the amount of young people (15-24) in New Zealand that are taking their own lives is frighteningly high compared that around the world.

About one in five suicide deaths in New Zealand are Maori. The Maori rate is about 1.5 times the non-Maori rate and the Maori youth rate is about 2.5 times the non-Maori youth rate. Rates are generally higher in areas of socio- economic deprivation and often these communities have higher proportion of Maori.

There is also evidence to show that media depicting suicide may have a negative effect on those at risk whereas “stories that show a person who has felt suicidal, but has overcome the feelings and can speak to the experience of recovery and being well, have been linked with reduction in suicide”. (Moira Clunie – Mental Health Foundation, New Zealand).


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