Whānau hit the road to heal issues of suicide

Five Māori families affected by suicide are participating in a unique project in which they will travel on a bus from marae to marae starting in Taranaki and ending in Cape Reinga.

The journey will last for one week and at each stop, a new family will join the journey. At each marae the families will take part in wānanga sessions presented by Māori psychologist and filmmaker, Paora Joseph.

The wānanga will provide a chance for each whānau to share their personal struggles and stories about their loved ones who lost their lives to suicide.

The wānanga, as well as the journey, will become part of a film named Maui's Hook, which Joseph will direct. The film will follow the same 'journey of discovery and resolution' format as Joseph's documentary, Tatarakihi: The Children of Parihaka.

The trip began yesterday in Taranaki and stops in areas worst affected by suicide, including Whanganui, Rotorua, Auckland, Whangarei-Northland before heading to Cape Reinga. It is there that karakia, waiata and karanga will be conducted- a farewell to all those who have taken their own lives and liberation for both the living and dead.

Paora Joseph says “Our ultimate aim in making Maui’s Hook is to provoke social change, dispel myths about suicide, alleviate stigma and bring down the suicide statistics in our country. We aim to achieve this by raising awareness and provoking discussion with the film."

About one in five suicide deaths in New Zealand are Māori. The Māori youth rate is about 2.5 times the non-Māori youth rate.