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Thursday, August 26, 2010
7:53 AM | Posted by Peter Lunk | | Edit Post
Departing Taranaki judge Rob Murfitt is a man on a mission.
He's seen the sad, steady stream of offenders through his courts and the human toll of waste and misery in Taranaki Base Hospital's mental health unit and he has made a connection – cannabis.
Now he is doing something about it before he leaves to take up a new role in Christchurch in October.
The region's Youth Court judge has brought together sponsors, youth workers and Kiwi music stars to produce a film documenting the dangers of the drug.
And his vision will be realised when the 47-minute film premieres next week.
Judge Murfitt used to think cannabis had only mild short-term side effects, "but I don't think that any longer".
He says the drug is "rampant" in Taranaki and that virtually all of the chronic offenders are users.
"With my work in the mental health ward it becomes startlingly obvious to me the connection between heavy cannabis use by young people and the onset of psychotic illness," the judge said.
"So I wanted to create a resource to be able to give to these young people that brings home the message."
Hiding Behind the Green Screen cost about $35,000 to make and was partly funded by offenders themselves, who contributed about $6000 through fines and reparations. Shell also assisted with a substantial sponsorship.
It was produced by Waves psychologist Paora Joseph and features well-known Kiwi musicians Frances Kora, of Kora, and Rio Hemopo, of Trinity Roots and Fat Freddy's Drop. Both have had their own struggle with "weed" and are now clean.
Judge Murfitt praised Mr Joseph for his creative genius and energy which had fuelled the project, which included filming in New Plymouth Prison.
"He created the story line. And as the concept grew so did the cost," he said with a smile.
He was grateful that professional film-makers had given the project hundreds of hours of their time without any guarantee of payment.
Mr Joseph said the documentary would be an invaluable, rare resource and learning tool and a legacy from Judge Murfitt to Taranaki youth.
"There are very few documentaries or resources that allude to marijuana, so it was needed."
Many of the troubled youth who went to Waves were faced with cannabis issues.
Further funding would be needed from the community for the cost of distribution.
The DVD will initially be available free to courts, mental health services, police, schools and CYF within Taranaki.
The film will premier at Govett-Brewster Art Gallery Theatre in New Plymouth on September 4.
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