A feature film by Māori psychologist and filmmaker Paora Joseph, director of Tātarakihi: Children of Parihaka, MĀUI’S HOOK is a raw, compelling road trip of loss, forgiveness and redemption. It invites open discussion of suicide through the brave testimony of five grieving families travelling to Cape Reinga. Set alongside the families is Tama, a disturbed young man on the destructive road of no return.
Invoking the skills, cunning and defiance of Māui, the title of the film alludes to the line on a map traced by the bus trip the film takes from Parihaka in Taranaki to Te Rerenga Wairua (Cape Reinga). The travellers who join this hīkoi wairua are five families grieving the suicide of someone close. Their stories give the film its soul-stirring centre.
Joseph conducts and films wānanga with the families as they journey north to release and farewell their loved ones. Addressing the demographic most commonly reflected in New Zealand’s suicide statistics, the story introduces a fictional surrogate in Tama (Niwa Whatuira), who observes the suffering of loved ones left behind and understands too late that while his pain and anger need not be permanent, death most surely is.
The film intends to change attitudes and provoke action.
Māui's Hook is about suicide and the trials endured by whānau after losing someone who was loved. It is a powerful film about a hīkoi undertaken by bereaved families to Te Rerenga Wairua. There are no easy answers to explain the relatively recent increase in rangatahi suicide but Māui's Hook offers some guidance: despair is better revealed, than hidden; suicide will never be explained by a veil of silence; and the anguish of the bereaved will continue so long as there is a sense of shame or self doubt. Māui's Hook shows that the aftermaths of suicide can be overcome not by being staunch or bravely resilient, but by allowing the loss to be shared so that the precursors of suicide might be better understood and loss can be transformed into hope.