22 Jun 2015

Film to raise awareness of suicide

6:52 am on 22 June 2015

The journey of five Māori whānau as they come to terms with the loss of loved ones to suicide will be filmed to raise awareness about the issue.

Cape Reinga and Kerikeri received the first of the rain and wind.

Cape Reinga Photo: RNZ

The families set out on Friday for a one week bus trip from Taranaki to Cape Reinga, where they will stop at various marae and talk about their experiences with a psychologist.

The journey will feature in the film Maui's Hook, directed by award-winning filmmaker Paora Joseph who is best known for his documentary Tātarakihi: The Children of Parihaka.

Mr Joseph said the film would delve into the issue of youth suicide.

"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."

The film's producer, Quinton Hita, says the families involved will stop in some of the areas worst affected by suicide, or whakamomori, including Whanganui, Rotorua, Auckland, Whangarei and Northland.

He said at Cape Reinga whānau would be given the opportunity to farewell their loved ones through waiata and karakia.

Mr Hita said he hoped the film would help dispel myths about suicide, alleviate stigma and provoke much needed discussion about the issue.

"It's a major issue and traditionally it hasn't been discussed in public forums," he said. "Certainly the people I've spoken to, who have a lot of expertise in this area, have all shared with me that the traditional way of approaching this hasn't worked for Māori."

Mr Hita said he hoped the film might help prevent suicide and be used as a resource for organisations trying to do the same thing.

The suicide rate among rangatahi Māori in 2011 was nearly twice as high as the rate for the rest of the population.

In this year's Budget the Government allocated $2.1 million towards preventing suicide among rangatahi Māori.

Maui's Hook is expected to be released next year.

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