The Chop Shop: A place for young Māori men to talk

By Tumamao Harawira

A Northland barbershop opening its doors to young Māori men to help deal with mental health issues and all things related to being a rangatahi has been turned into a docuseries for RNZ.

The docuseries, named The Barber Shop is a six-part video documentary series and follows rangatahi from Northland who speak on a range of issues, including mental health.

The Chop Shop in Kerikeri is run by local Denny Harden and has long been known as a safe place for rangatahi to congregate and discuss their issues. He says the shop started from humble beginnings.


The Chop Shop becomes the hub for cuts and kōrero for rangatahi Māori.

"In 2013 it started as a one-chair shop and after nine years we've progressed to four chairs."

"Somewhere they can actually speak and get it off their chest."

According to the Youth2000 report, over the past 20 years, depression among youth has risen by 23%.  The survey series compared its current results, 2019, with years dating back to 2001, giving a picture of how the lives of people aged 10-19 have changed.

Harden says barbershops are a great place for people to talk about their issues.

"Once you're in the barber's chair, it's a comfortable space to actually speak to someone without you realising you're telling your life stories."

Jason Taylor of Taihuri Films was called on to help create The Barber Shop.

"It's not easy to get rangatahi talking, but we were very lucky and found some amazing young people to talk about their lives and their stories with us and some of the challenges that they have had."