A lens on suicide

By Iulia Leilua

A new feature film on the sensitive subject of suicide is set to debut this month at the New Zealand Film Festival. 

Māui’s Hook is the third film by Paora Joseph to premiere in the NZIFF, following Tātarakihi: Children of Parihaka (2012), about children discovering the history of their people and Te Awa Tupua (2014), which explored the unique role of the Whanganui River.

Shot documentary and drama style, Maui’s Hook follows five families on a road trip from Parihaka to Cape Reinga as they deal with the aftermath of a family member’s suicide.  It’s a raw, compelling story about loss, forgiveness and redemption.

As a former youth worker, Paora Joseph has seen it all, from drug addiction to homelessness. But what’s disturbed him the most is the large number of our youth committing suicide. He’s determined to fight and ease the suffering. 

In terms of Māori psychology, the film is very Māori,” says Paora. “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 individualized

New Zealand has the highest suicide rate in the developed world between the ages of 15 and 24, especially among Māori.

Maui's Hook will premiere in Auckland on July 21 during the NZ International Film Festival.