Film addressing domestic violence, alcohol, drugs wins award

By Jessica Tyson
Screenshot of a re-enactment from the short film. Source: Korowai Manaaki, Auckland Police, Facebook

Rangatahi at a youth justice residence in Auckland have taken out the top prize at a film festival with their short film addressing domestic violence, gambling, drugs, stealing and mental health.

The short film from youth at Korowai Manaaki What You Don’t Know came out on top against 20 schools in the senior section of the Be Safe Feel Safe Film Festival.

The film features rangatahi from the residence, the issues that have affected them in their lives and how they ended up in custody.

Stories in the film

At the beginning of the video one rangatahi talks about his experience with domestic violence.

“What you don’t know is I use to watch my dad beat my mother when he come back from the pub and at the same time protect my brothers and sisters from getting a hiding, he said in the video.

“I would pull my dad off mum and he would turn on me. This was the same man that said he loved us. Violence and alcohol was his love.”

Another young man talks about stealing and gambling.

“I would steal so I could feed my brothers and sisters who haven’t eaten all day because mum spent the money on the pokies.”

In the middle of the film, it features the theme of mental health.

“What you don’t know is I am diagnosed with ADHD, depression, self-harm, anxiety, fetal alcohol syndrome who you call loser, weirdo, ugly,” a rangatahi says.

The rangatahi also talk about belonging to a gang.

“I’ve been made to feel small by my peers and family, I turn to a group of friends who you call a gang, who accept me for who I am and they make me feel like I’m worth something.”

One of the rangatahi, who can’t be named, worked on the voice over of part of the video.

She told Te Kāea that the purpose of the video was to tell people, “there is more to us youth and that we are trying to be good.”

She said she enjoyed making the film because she got to hear about the different stories of her peers.

“And just getting it out there so that the public and community and whoever else watched it can see.”


Auckland Police inspector Vaughn Graham was a judge in the competition and said the themes of violence, alcohol and drugs stood out to him and the other judges.

“It’s quite sobering really. Often these young people are reflected in bad news articles or in fact news articles that show the offending they’ve been involved, he says.

“But we quite often forget about the background, about the legacy that’s actually brought them to this place and what they’ve actually got in trouble for.”

Korowai Youth Justice Coordinator Matavai Fatupaito helped co-ordinate the video and said it was an awesome experience capturing the young people’s stories.

She says it’s important for people to change their perspectives of rangatahi staying in youth facilities.

“Everyone’s got a past and it’s just a stepping stone. It’s a place to start from the ground up and make a difference,” she says.