Heavy stories give inspiration

SHAUN BAMBER
Last updated 16:21 05/07/2013
Nicola Smith
STORIES OF INSPIRATION: Producer Nicola Smith

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Drug abuse, domestic violence, prostitution, suicide - all these issues and more are explored in Te Ara Wairua: A New Hope, a new documentary series showcasing 11 tales of tragedy, heartbreak and loss.

It is a journey that producer Nicola Smith describes as "hard, but beautiful" - in that out of each story, no matter how despairing, come moments of hope and inspiration.

"These are first-person accounts of some fairly heavy stories," says Smith, "but one of the criteria was that they had to be in a really positive place now, like a place of inspiration, so that when people see their story they can see that actually there is a way out of the darkness."

Smith, a former police officer, was only too aware of what a difficult process making Te Ara Wairua would be.

"The research process was quite long. We did a lot of groundwork, first going and meeting them and letting them know in no uncertain terms the real deal.

"One of the stories is a man who beat his wife, inflicted violence on his wife for years and he tells the nation that. So we had to spell it out and say, 'You know, you might get negative feedback from this, are you prepared for that?' "

Despite her background, Smith says it is impossible to remain unaffected by the stories.

"The Makoare family from Hastings, their story was definitely hard because you're interviewing two people who have lost their child to suicide. So there's a lot of raw emotion.

"Another one was in Rotorua - another suicide story, a young man who tried to take his life at the age of 17 but, thankfully, someone found him. He's still only 20 now, but he's doing amazing things out there talking about suicide prevention.

"That was always the goal of the series, that it be an inspirational show that showed people that no matter how dark it looks, there is a way out, and there are other people that have been through similar things."

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