Maui's Hook movie encouraging kōrero around suicide

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

The riveting Maui’s Hook movie kicks off its world premiere at the New Zealand International Film Festival at Auckland’s ASB Waterfront Theatre tonight.

The new documentary film by Māori psychologist and filmmaker Paora Joseph brings discussions of suicide into the spotlight through the brave testimony of five grieving families.

Executive Producer of the project, Quinton Hita says, “Those who are dying are children. We need to stop the hurt. We need to reveal the depth of this issue to the world.”

The film weaves the raw narratives of families who have lost someone to suicide with the symbolic dramatisation of a young Māori man facing adversity.

Paora Joseph says, “A lot of those social issues come through colonisation, there's a lot of identity issues that our rangatahi (youth) face, I think the film embraces a lot of those issues, it brings them to light but in a compassionate way.”

The film shows the journey of mourning whānau who travel to Te Rerenga Wairua (Cape Reinga) to perform spiritual ceremonies. The travelling group stops in at marae along the way to meet other whānau and share their experiences in a process of healing.

“Incredibly brave, incredibly vulnerable and saying look this happened to us, this could happen to you and if it does happen to you don't be afraid, talk about it.," says Joseph. 

Following tonight’s screening, Maui’s Hook will be taken to various communities and marae throughout the country.

Interview with Quinton Hita at Maui’s Hook world premiere 


I'm here with Quinton Hita, the executive producer of the film. Quinton, tell us, what was the main driver in putting this together?


The love for those who have been affected by this, that’s how the film came about, within that spirit. It was one of the elders in the project who said we don’t have the solutions, but there’s no harm in talking. Maybe by speaking together, we will find a way to help resolve these issues. That’s the spirit of this project.


We've seen a change in Māori protocols over the years in relation to suicide, can you provide an insight into this?


The thing that I took from our journey over the five years of this initiative is that the perceptions have changed. Everyone is of the same mindset, relinquish the shame. It was something that was placed on our ancestors by Pākehā, based on the rules of religion that they grew up with in those times. They were buried outside of sacred rites, but now there’s a different perspective now and that’s to relinquish the shame. We can’t allow the burden of shame to hurt us and our children, and we won’t live in a state of wellbeing if we continue to allow it to do so.