AROHA17 Festival targets youth suicide prevention

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

This years AROHA17 Festival is aimed at helping youth deal with mental wellness. 

The 10 day event kicked off last night with a film awards and organiser Mika Haka Foundation says the events will provide a space for young people to discuss suicide prevention.

Tū Tika, Tū Pono is young budding director Moka Namana's debut short film

"I choose this issue to show the positives and negatives experiences of gay people.  The difficulties, to help them to remain true and honest to themselves," said Namana.

12 local and international short films by young directors with social messages, were nominated for four categories.

"A lot of it's about trying to influence younger emerging talent into getting them into the arts and crafts.  We do it in just a more fresh, fun, energetic way with the people that we have around," said Jay Tewake, the foundations Suicide Prevention Co-ordinator.

The festival was established in 2010 to celebrate diversity in film, music, fashion and dance.  Fostering mental wellness amongst the young is this years theme.

"Having empathy for difference.  Kotahitanga mā te rerekētanga. In this group here we are unified through difference.  The fact that we have Chinese working with Māori, gay kids with straight kids, so they lose the barrier,"  said founder Mika Haka.

Tū Tika, Tū Pono won the Emerging LGBTIQ Filmmaker's Award. 

On Saturday evening an All Stars comedy fundraiser will be held, featuring Mike King, focusing on youth suicide awareness and prevention.