Friday, 20 July 2018

Maui's Hook: NZIFF Review

Maui's Hook: NZIFF Review

Director Paora Joseph's Maui's Hook clearly has an agenda - and in the current world we live in in New Zealand, that's no bad thing at all.

The psychologist's piece mixes both a drama and a documentary to get the discussion on suicide in our youth up and running. And while the drama is reasonably well acted and in parts, strong, it has nowhere near the power of the heart-wrenching true life stories.

Four Maori families and one Pakeha family join a hikoi around parts of the north of country, visiting marae to discuss the impact and the reality of suicide on families. To be frank, it doesn't really matter what race these families are, these are stories which have a human universality that's relatable throughout.
Maui's Hook: NZIFF Review

Peppering the piece with statistics like 150,000 young people will think about suicide and 20,000 of them will make a plan to carry out is powerful stuff, and Joseph handles it all with sensitivity throughout, rather than sensationalism.

It helps that Joseph uses young voices to tell the story as well - it's a vital key to opening this door of shame open and to kickstart the questions.

It's clear that for Maori, this is a real issue, an underlying cancer that's ripping through society and which goes unspoken even though its effects are utterly devastating and the ramifications live on for decades. Whether it's the simplicity of having 10 family members sat on mats discussing the effect the death of their mother had on them, or a final set of sequences atop a cliff at Cape Reinga, laying photos and reflecting, there's a power here unable to be denied.

There's certainly a humility to this, and while the drama's perhaps necessary to pull in the audience it's aiming for, Maui's Hook proves to be an essential aide for showcasing the human side of suicide - it would have been good to have potentially had some input from various services involved in the treatment, but perhaps that's not Joseph's intention.

It's clear he intended to put a human face on suicide in the Maori community - he does that and more; it's to be hoped that the discussion now happens and the changes necessary come.

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