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Maui's Hook [2018] by Paora Te Oti Takarangi Joseph

Māui’s Hook (image 3)

Maui's Hook is neither a documentary nor a drama, though it has elements of both.  In essence it is a conversation, and its intention is to provoke further conversation.  Suicide is epidemic in Aotearoa and it can damage families by sending shock waves through everyone involved.  The film is clear that it does not have all the answers, but there is one thing it can do: break the silence.  People don't talk about suicide because of shame and anger, but, as this film displays, talking openly with your loved ones is the first step towards healing from that trauma.

In the film, a group of whanau personally affected by suicide in their families embark on a hikoi together, a tour of marae from Taranaki, Whanganui, Rotorua, and Whangarei to Cape Reinga, to set the spirits free.  Meanwhile, a despairing young man contemplates suicide, without the support he needs.  Whanau are interviewed together as a group, and in one case this is the first time they have talked together about the suicide.

Aotearoa not only has the highest youth suicide rate in the world, but suicide is primary cause of death for Kiwis between ages 18-24.  The reasons for this are beyond the scope of the film, but it does make sense of one important element: the support of family and the openness to talk about what we are going through makes a significant difference to those affected by suicide who might be feeling isolated.

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