The new feature film Māui's Hook is set to premiere in Auckland tomorrow night as part of the New Zealand International Film Festival.
Shot documentary and drama style, Māui's Hook follows five families on a road trip from Parihaka to Cape Reinga as they each deal with the aftermath of a family member's suicide.
The film also blends the fictional story of Tama, a young man undergoing a struggle with life, played by actor Niwa Whaituira.
Director Paroa Joseph used his experience and skills gained as a psychologist to create the film, purpose-built to change attitudes and provoke action around youth suicide.
In a recent interview with Native Affairs he said in the film "we see lots of suffering, in terms of our whānau, grieving for the loss of their loved ones. But that suffering, we can get through it. It's like being in a storm in a rough sea, you know, but the storm will go."
Joseph also appears in the film conducting healing sessions with grieving families in the documentary backbone of the film.
“In terms of Māori psychology, the film is very Māori in the sense that we collectively share our grief, we are given the space, we have that forum of a wānanga to be able to do that. Whereas with western psychology it’s very individualised.”
New Zealand has the highest suicide rate in the developed world between the ages of 15 and 24, especially among Māori.
NZIFF director Bill Gosden says, “The title of this stirring film by psychologist and filmmaker Paora Joseph also alludes to the line on a map traced by the bus trip he takes us on from Parihaka to Te Rerenga Wairua.”
Māui's Hook is the third film by Joseph to premiere in the NZIFF, following Tātarakihi: Children of Parihaka, about children discovering the history of their people, and Te Awa Tupua, which explored the unique role of the Whanganui River.
If you or anyone you know is affected by suicide you can contact LifeLine on 0800 543 535 or the suicide Crisis hotline 0508 TAUTOKO.