Film gives time to let healing be­gin

The Northland Age - - Local News -

When Tai­haruru (Whanga¯rei) cou­ple Sam and Gina Al­bert were ap­proached by the Nga¯ti Hine Health Trust to take part in a movie about their son’s sui­cide, although it was raw, they jumped right in.

They both felt it was time to be open and talk about what they’d been through.

With care­ful guid­ance from clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist and film­maker Paora Te Oti Takarangi Joseph, the Al­berts say they were able to start the healing process by talk­ing about their ex­pe­ri­ence with the four other fam­i­lies the film doc­u­mented on their jour­ney from each marae to Te Reinga Wairua (Cape Reinga) to say good­bye to their loved ones.

“As far as I’m con­cerned, if you don’t talk about it, it just eats you up in­side, and we thought if we could get on board with other wha¯nau that had been through it, we could talk about it,” Mr Al­bert said.

“I said in the film, to start the healing process I had to for­give my­self. I didn’t be­lieve that I was a good fa­ther be­cause my son took his life. I had to for­give my son for what he did. That’s where my healing started, through for­giv­ing my­self and my son.”

Mrs Al­bert said she was nor­mally not one to show her grief be­cause she did not like to “un­load” on peo­ple, but tak­ing part in the film had en­abled her to fo­cus on her­self and heal.

“As a mum, we take care of ev­ery­one else. We don’t take care of our­selves. In the process of Ma¯ui’s Hook, be­ing catered to, not hav­ing to cook and just those sim­ple things, I had noth­ing to worry about. I looked at my­self and that jour­ney was healing for me. That was a bless­ing for me, that I came away from it lighter and spir­i­tu­ally re­newed,” she said.

One of the most dif­fi­cult Griev­ing par­ents Gina and Sam Al­bert (right), with Tara-I-Te-Rangi Joseph and film-maker Paora Te Oti Takarangi Joseph.

parts of the film for the cou­ple to watch was when their daugh­ter un­veiled some of her ex­pe­ri­ences with her brother, which they hadn’t known of un­til film­ing. Although it broke her heart, it en­abled Mrs Al­bert to see what her daugh­ter had been car­ry­ing.

“I just wanted to hold her and take all her pain and tell her how brave she was for even telling us that. They caught that mo­ment on film and it just broke me,” she said.

“You can’t hide any­thing on the big screen. I think who­ever watches it is go­ing to see that pain and the love at that mo­ment.”

Mr Paora felt es­pe­cially con­nected to the Al­berts be­cause of their raw hon­esty in the film.

“They’re ab­so­lutely di­rect, vul­ner­a­ble and to­tally open,” he said.

“It’s that type of hon­esty that truly af­fects peo­ple. It’s not all your pre­scribed psy­cho­log­i­cal par­a­digms or method­ol­ogy or that sort of thing. It’s not say­ing that you have all the an­swers, but in your vul­ner­a­bil­ity and in your hon­esty, the an­swers come flow­ing forth from that.”

The film had sold out through­out the North Is­land, and had led con­ver­sa­tions about sui­cide, be­cause au­di­ences felt it pro­vided a safe en­vi­ron­ment in which to talk.

“Every­where the film is go­ing there are peo­ple in the room who have been af­fected di­rectly or in­di­rectly by sui­cide, and if we have that kau­papa on

the ta­ble then no one’s alien­ated and we’re all to­gether, and that’s the power. The power is from the peo­ple,” he said.

Mr Al­bert said the whole process made him open up to his wha¯nau, in­stead of telling them to get over it and har­den up.

“It’s made me more soft and open to be­ing able to talk about things with them,” he said.

“This film needs to be shown every­where, be­cause we’re los­ing all our young ones. If you can set up groups with peo­ple who have been through it and suf­fered through it, then it can help peo­ple who are too shy to talk about it. That sort of set-up would be awe­some.”

Mrs Al­bert felt strongly that sui­cide is not al­ways talked about openly.

“We’ve got to give our chil­dren an en­vi­ron­ment to talk about any­thing, good or bad, and not be judged. If they are think­ing about it, they need to talk to us about it. We also need to al­low them to grieve, but not glo­rify it, be­cause that’s what I see a lot of,” she said.

****

Ma¯ui’s Hook is de­scribed as 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 Ma¯ui, 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. The trav­ellers who join this h¯ıkoi wairua are five fam­i­lies griev­ing the sui­cide of some­one close. Their sto­ries give the film its soul-stir­ring cen­tre.

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 is in­tended to change at­ti­tudes and pro­voke ac­tion.

PIC­TURE / SUP­PLIED

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