Rob Mokaraka is coming to Wairarapa to share his journey with depression. PHOTO/RAWHITIROA PHOTOGRAPHY
It was 2009 when actor Rob Mokaraka attempted ‘suicide by cop’.
Now, after a long, and ongoing, journey of healing and self-love, Mokaraka will share his story of mental illness with Wairarapa people.
He will perform his one-man show Shot Bro: Confessions of a Depressed Bullet at Te Rangimarie Marae in Masterton on October 17 as part of the Kokomai Creative Festival.
“Shot Bro is based on my mental breakdown in 2009,” he said.
“I had depression most of my life but didn’t know I had it. I didn’t even know what it was.”
His undiagnosed depression caused him to “spiral out of control” – “and nobody knew until the fateful day on July 27, 2009 when I wanted my life to end… I called the police to shoot me dead.”
Mokaraka had armed himself with a meat cleaver and confronted armed police and was shot.
The pain from multiple surgeries trying to locate the bullet made Mokaraka feel “very present”.
“I’d been hiding a lot and I was taught not to talk about my emotions.
“The irony is, the tough fellas are killing themselves because they think dying is better than crying.
“I’ve changed that all around and I say it all the time to men and women, crying is better than dying.”
Mokaraka said he had spent the following seven years unpacking his emotions to create a show that would take people on an emotional journey through the dark and light of mental illness.
“I am very lucky to be alive, I feel very blessed.
“And I’ve used my artform as a tool for healing.”
“Shot Bro shows people what it’s like to feel love and the darkness.
“I’ve used distinctive Maori humour, funny stuff to slowly and gently weave you into the world, and there’s coping mechanisms within the show.”
After each show Mokaraka hosts an open conversation with audience members – “that’s the real healing part of the experience”.
That is followed by a karakia and cups of tea for people who want to stay behind and “have a chat, eat food, and ground themselves”.
“First of all, you have to acknowledge you have a problem, then you have to go and seek help.
“In all of this, you have to realise you are truly worth it. You deserve that love and care.”
He said suicide was an “everyone problem”.
“It doesn’t matter how rich or poor someone is, what their culture or profession is, it affects everyone across the board and if we don’t get these tools, it’s going to kill us.
“It’s going to take family members away, it’s going to take friends away.
“New Zealand, for such a small country, has such a high suicide rate per capita.
“Males are right up there, Maori are right up there, farmers are being rocked by this.
“It’s a mental and spiritual thing – it’s not just a mental thing. Things have to be in balance.
“It’s okay to talk.”
Shot Bro: Confessions of a Depressed Bullet will start at 7pm on Tuesday, October 17.
Tickets are now sold out.
Some useful free phone helplines
These 24/7 free phones are operated by trained counsellors who can help you talk through problems and identify ways of coping.
Lifeline: 0800 543 354
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 54 (0800 KIDSLINE) supporting under 18-year-olds
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Women’s Refuge Crisis Line: 0800 733 843
Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757
Samaritans: 0800 726 666
Outline NZ: 0800 688 5463 (0800 OUTLINE) sexuality and gender issues