(SLOW, ATMOSPHERIC MUSIC) (LAID-BACK MUSIC) My name’s Sam. People
call me the Barter Barber. What’s up, bro?
Hey, bro. How are you? Good, man. Come take a seat.
Cheers, man. Hey, Bo-bo.
Hey, boy. ‘My mission is to go out
and talk about talking, ‘taking the ideas of mental health
to the provinces.’ How’ve you been anyway,
dude, like, in yourself?
Just working hard, hardly working. I’ve been cutting hair for 12 years. During my time working with men,
started seeing a frustration that
is inherent to us and a frustrating
interpersonal style. Think that the ‘man up’ attitude is
one of our most toxic attitudes that
we hold dear here in New Zealand — that, kind of, ‘harden up; be a
man’. Cos, I mean, in reality,
what is a man? I dunno. I dunno, bro.
I’m finding out. I’ll get back to you on this one.
Yeah. I’ll go and talk to a couple more
of them around the country, eh? Yeah, that’s right. That’s right.
(LAUGHS) Awesome, man. Hey, absolute
pleasure to see you, dude.
You too, mate. We hear diagnoses a lot, and
diagnoses doesn’t make somebody
something. When somebody says, ‘I’ve got
schizophrenia,’ or, ‘I’ve got
depression,’ or, ‘I have this or that,’ that
doesn’t define that person. It’s just a group of attributes in
mental health that they do show. With having my own struggles
with mental health, I just wanted to explore
that a little bit more and share some of the experiences
I’ve had to push… push us towards more
healthy communication and more healthy interpersonal
relationships between us guys and hopefully a greater
understanding of what it is to
have mental health, as we all do. (HORN TOOTS) I travel around the country with
my dog, Bo, in our 1971 Bedford CF that we live in and
we also cut hair out of. # I keep dreamin’ on. # We travel around the country,
starting conversations — starting conversations about
mental health or even just
conversations about talking. (SOMBRE PIANO MUSIC) It was in my late teens that I
started having my friends suiciding, and those suicides had
a profound impact on my life. But it wasn’t till my late 20s
that I started experiencing
anxiety attacks myself. Hey. What’s up, my man?
Hey, what’s up? How you doing? Good to see you.
I’m good. Come on in, bro. I’ve come into Godfather Barbers
to talk to Zeir. Zeir’s got some pretty cool ideas on
how guys should communicate and why
we don’t. So, you’ve been barbering
for how long now?
About a year and a half now. How do you find the conversations,
being a barber? Like, do you find
that guys open up to you, or…? Yeah, I find here,
it’s like Vegas, man; you can say whatever you like and
it’s gonna stay here, you know? Yeah.
There’s no judgement, and it’s easy. The guys that come in here come time
and time again because of that.
Yeah, exactly, man. That’s what brings everyone back is
the fact that there’s no rules,
nothing’s set in stone. They walk out and they come back in
feeling like they can express more
to you, and every single time they come in,
they feel like they know you that
little bit better. Yeah. Your clients are
like your old friends, and you feel like
they open up to you.
Absolutely. We do give guys a place where
they can express themselves, where you’re not gonna get your head
bitten off for expressing your
opinion or your ideas. Yeah, exactly. It’s probably one of
the few places where guys can come
in and talk about their feelings and let a load off, you know?
We forget that that’s our role and that all it takes is one guy to
come in and say something a little
bit more off the cuff than usual to remind us, ‘Oh s**t, we actually
do…’ You know? And our reaction to their unload
is actually another piece of it,
isn’t it? Yeah, exactly, man. And what we do
here, I mean, we see a lot of
transformations — not only physical, with what we do
as barbers, but also emotionally
as well. You know, once a guy leaves here—
They could have the worst morning
of their life, but after coming here and being
pampered and letting a load off and
telling people about their feelings, they leave a million bucks.
(JAUNTY MUSIC) AMERICAN MAN: Under the striped
barber cloth, any customer becomes
wrapped in some of the tradition that has surrounded barbers and
their shops since the time of Plato,
in the days of Ancient Greece. The first barbering clubs were
formed, where men would meet to
discuss the topics of the day while having their hair
trimmed and beards curled. (MUSIC CONTINUES) Today’s barber is still an adviser
or patient listener to affairs in
the lives of his customers. This is an exclusive men’s world,
where women do not go. (PENSIVE MUSIC) (MUSIC CONTINUES) 9 to 5 never really suited me. I mean, I’ve done many,
many, many years of it. I feel like not waiting to be called
in by a boss is a real reprieve to
my mental health. (PENSIVE MUSIC CONTINUES) I don’t have a cell phone.
If I need to go and be alone and have some time meditating and
that kind of thing, I can just go
into the bush. It’s a real powerful thing knowing
that’s your choice, you know? And
having that choice. We get a pretty early night in here
because we’re up 5.30, ready for
the next day. This is my passion; this is my
drive. I really enjoy it, and I
wanna get more knowledge behind me, and I wanna get more experience and
interpersonal relationships around
the country, because I can’t believe the network
of people I will have by the time
this is finished. There was a point where I
was very fiscally motivated. I had the apartment; I had the flash
things — the bikes, the cars — and
it was very, very hollow. And I think it was at that moment
that I realised that I needed to do
something else for my fulfilment. I got more fulfilment from
altruistic actions than I did
from financial gain. The only thing I need
is food and petrol. I don’t have rent; I don’t have,
you know, these overheads that
a lot of other people do. I lived to help myself for a long
time, and that didn’t make me feel
any better. And I learnt that helping others. That’s why I travel around the
country in a van, talking to people,
making them feel good — cos that’s where I
get my fulfilment. (TRANQUIL MUSIC) Welcome. Come in.
Thank you very much. Oh, it’s gorgeous.
It is. So, this is where you
do your work from? This is part of my work. I do teach
mindfulness classes every week. A number of years ago,
I had a business, and through the global financial
crisis, I lost it. It was a business worth about
13 million, so it was pretty— It was
a property development business. And, you know, for a man in his 50s
to lose a business like that, it
brought up a lot of despair, and then I realised that there was
a place where there was no point
in going back into the past. I could still see the sunset.
Mm. I could still talk to people I cared
about; they were still in my life. I could still see the garden,
or whatever it is. So those little things enabled me to
actually start valuing what’s there. The way our society functions at the
moment, it inherently creates a lot
of discontent for people, because it’s always about getting
something that— where happiness or
contentment or well-being is. So if my journey is this place of
happiness, if I’m feeling sad, then I almost get at war with that
state and I’m tryna get rid of it, because it doesn’t fit
where I wanna be. Whereas what I see if that,
actually, when you’re feeling sad
and you enable yourself to be with the feeling of sadness —
you don’t like it, but you allow it
to be there — it’ll go; it’ll just move through
you, cos that’s it’s natural thing. And it doesn’t come back up once
you’ve started dealing with it? By the time that I know that I’ve
dealt with it, it’s when I think
about it and I go, ‘All right.’ You know? It’s not —
‘Oh, that one again!’
Absolutely. What I emphasise for people nowadays
is about what contentment is. For a lot of men, what’s driving
them is this desire to, kind of,
be this successful person because of the past that’s driving
them. And so when they fail or
there’s a problem, then they despair or they
get into a difficult place. It still doesn’t mean that you don’t
have dreams and aspirations, but you
have a place of contentment. The reason why people get depressed
or anxious — a big part of it is
they have an idea of life, of how life should be, and the
reason why they’re suffering so much is because their life is not meeting
their expectations or idea. We get sold it, don’t we?
We get sold it.
But it’s just an idea. Yeah.
It’s just an idea. If you change
your idea, life changes. It’s a real hard thing for these
guys to wrap their head around, because it’s unlearning a lot of
traits that they’ve actually put
on themselves as who they are. Thank you so much, Chris. Everything you’re saying about
kindness is something I’m really
gonna be taking with me further on into my travels,… Cool.
…cos, uh, really, really
good stuff, yeah. Ooh, here we go. Ooh!
That’s backwards. I’m going forwards. The most amazing thing is
I don’t have a reverse gear, but that’s good, cos we’re always
going forward — progress. Ha! The Bedford is a big iron beast,
but it’s classic. (UPBEAT MUSIC) It breaks down semi-regularly,
but it’s not too hard to fix. (MUSIC CONTINUES) Aha!
(GRUNTS) Hmm. (GRUNTS) I know the sounds it makes really
well, cos there’s this, ‘Rrrrrrr!’
which sounds bad, but that’s good. And then there’s a ‘(PURRS LOUDLY)’
and when it starts making that
noise, I need to pull over, cos the driveshaft’s
about to fall off. (HIP-HOP MUSIC)
# Check. # Yo. What?
# Yo. # When I’m on the road, I’m always
swapping haircuts for goods and
services — things that I need — gas, food or even just a good story. (MUSIC CONTINUES) Hey, Sam. How are ya, man?
Good, bro. We’ve got another rattle.
Yeah. Um, a couple of dead leads. I don’t
know if it’s the lead for the back.
It’s probably just a bulb, but… Cool, man. We’ll get it up
and see what’s going on.
Thanks, man. Look, that’s not supposed to be
there, right? This big hole. Yeah, nah.
That’s new. (CHUCKLES) Time for a new exhaust,
I think, Sam.
GROANS: Oh, dude! (LAUGHS) No! When was I last in here giving you
boys haircuts? Couple days ago?
Yeah. Monday, Tuesday. Monday or Tuesday we were in here
doing cuts. Yeah, Sam’s been in and done,
probably, three or four cuts with
all the boys and that here. We did a new set of tyres on it a
couple of weeks ago when it was in. Yeah, all works in roundabouts,
Yeah, yeah. It’s quite cool as well being able
to come in here and just talk to
the guys, cos this is
a male-dominated workspace. It is indeed.
There’s all the blokes around
here and a lot of bloke talk, and it’s a good time to have bloke
talk is within these kind of
institutions. Yeah. Have we got some gloves? (CHUCKLES) (SOFT, BRIGHT MUSIC) (WHIRRING) I’m here far more often
than I’d like to be — not because Shane isn’t a great
dude, but it’s because any time I’m
here, I’m usually having an issue. But, in saying that, I’ve been
working with the team as well, doing some haircuts,
just having some yarns. CHUCKLES: Yes!
Ha, ha! We’ve been working with
Shane and the team here since pretty much the inception
of the actual movement of
the Barter Barber. Skrrt! Mate, hey, thanks so much, bro.
Sweet, Sam. We’ll get you
back on the road, eh? Easy-peasy. Um, I’m gonna need a
couple of the boys to give us a
push out, if that’s all right. All right, cool. (LAID-BACK ELECTRONIC MUSIC) Oh-ho! Yeahhh! (HORN TOOTS RAPIDLY) All righty, you ready to go, man?
(ENGINE REVS) All right, see you later, team! (TOOTS HORN) (LAID-BACK ELECTRONIC MUSIC
CONTINUES) So, tell me about what
you enjoy about life. DEEP VOICE: ‘Well, I like
sniffing things. ‘Peeing on things is
really good as well, ‘and human food and dog food
are both preferable.’ Stay, dude. Come and have a seat here, man.
Sweet. ‘Sup, bro? Nah, real good. It’s nice
to be up here in Auckland.
I know, right? What are the chances?
In the big city. Watch out. (LAUGHS) What are the chances
of us catching up?
LAUGHS: Yeah. So, I saw this morning you posted on
Facebook about your little one.
She’s over in… Thailand? Yeah, bro. So, pretty much, a couple
of years ago, I sold everything and
went overseas and taught English. I ended up having a kid overseas,…
Yeah …which is awesome — coolest thing
that’s ever happened to me — but, unfortunately, it didn’t end
well between the mother and I. Came back to New Zealand and had
to start again, so I had nothing
to my name — no car, no money, nowhere, really, apart from, you
know, parents’ house to go crash at. When you’ve been really down,
how have you found… you can deal with that and find
a healthy way to deal with it? Initial reaction always, without
fail, is isolation — isolate myself,
stay away from everyone. But then I’ve slowly found ways
to make myself more approachable,
not close myself off. It’s just getting
out there and being—
…being part of it. Yeah. It hasn’t started or ended or
at any point through the day have
they said to me, ‘How are you?’… Yeah.
…or, ‘What’s wrong?’ It’s just
being around someone else. It’s actually just being in that
space and getting out of your
routine, isn’t it? That’s it. Absolutely, man. I have wicked, super down days.
Yeah. Last week, a couple of weeks ago,
I was terrible for about three or
four days there. My family were starting
to notice it.
Yeah. My really close friends that I talk
to every day were starting to notice
it. Dude, I had my first panic attack
yesterday for the first time in,
like, half a year-plus. Yep. And, like, that whole day, I was
the biggest douche just to…
…to everyone. Yeah, because I was stressed out. You know, I was having a— But I
didn’t realise I was building up
towards that. You know? And it’s a trained thing.
It’s something that we do learn to
be more on to, so when I feel my mental health
is going downhill, first thing I notice — eating.
I stop sleeping or I sleep in a lot. And those things, now I know, within
myself, I need to go, ‘All right,
it’s time to address this.’ Thanks so much, man.
Happy birthday, bro. Thanks, man. You’re a legend.
Awesome. When guys start having these yarns,
they spread like wildfire because it’s something that we wanna
talk about. It’s not just topical;
it’s important, because we’re losing, you know, hundreds and hundreds
of kids and men through these suicides, and it’s something
that is preventable. (PENSIVE PIANO MUSIC) MAN: Start from that
corner over there. They’ll be in a line this way.
We’re gonna line them up. We’ve laid out 606 pairs of shoes, each representing somebody who has
suicided over the last year. What I find really shocking
is over 500 of them are men. Walking out on to that field,
carrying those shoes, I felt like I was carrying the
memory and the mana of the people
that I had lost. (PENSIVE PIANO MUSIC CONTINUES) We know that we can do better.
We absolutely know we can do better
as a country and as people. It’s not just the effect that it has
on us as people — as groups of
people — but the effect it has
on us as a community. Been a huge struggle for our whanau
over the last two and a half years,
trying to get help for our son. It has got to change. I’ve got three children at home and
three grandchildren that don’t have
him any more, and that’s not OK. And I don’t care if he was
a typical Kiwi bloke; he still deserved to get
the help that he asked for. In 2007, we lost our brother Shane. In 2008, we lost our sister. In 2015, we lost
another brother, LJ. And just last year, we lost another sister… to suicide. (BREATHES DEEPLY) RAPS: # Being mentally ill doesn’t
mean that you’re hopeless; # it just means that you’ve been
through some things that you
couldn’t cope with. # Why has this becoming
a regular thing? # Sweeping it under the carpet;
tryna ignore what’s really
happenin’. # Being mentally ill doesn’t
mean that you’re hopeless; # (EXHALES HEAVILY)
…that you couldn’t cope with. SINGS: # Hold on. # Just hold on. # Hold on. # Don’t let go.
# I don’t wanna lose ya. # I’ll be there whenever
you need me, yeah. # Hold on. # Don’t let go.
# I don’t wanna lose ya. # (APPLAUSE)
Kia ora. Kia ora, everybody. My name’s Sam.
I’m from Tauranga, and I run a
project called the Barter Barber. I’m just gonna be a quick couple of
minutes. I just wanna talk to the
men out there. ‘Harden up.’ ‘Man up.’ ‘Be strong.’ Those are attitudes that are
prevalent not just in our cities
but in our country. These attitudes take away
the right to feel something. These attitudes take away… the right not to be OK. And a lot of us aren’t OK out there.
If you’ve got a friend that’s having
a problem, go out and do a hobby — whether it be hunting, whether it
be going for a surf, whether it
be going fishing — and use that time to turn to your
brother and say, ‘Bro, are you OK?’ Because saying, ‘Are you OK?’
gives him the chance to speak. Cos we’ve been told so many times
to harden up, to man up, to be
stronger. We need to give ourselves some space
for vulnerability and to be able to
open ourselves up for help. Mental health does not define you;
you define you. And our families
define us. Thank you. (CONTEMPLATIVE MUSIC) It’s been an incredibly challenging
day but also so fulfilling. I’m thinking of friends and
clients that have passed. I’m thinking of the men
that are feeling frustrated and unable to communicate
themselves at the moment. I’m thinking about how many shoes
are gonna be there next year. (MUSIC CONTINUES) All righty.
(HANDBRAKE CLICKS, KEYS JINGLE) Come on, pup. Let’s go. Come on, pup. ‘Growing up in a small town like
Tauranga, I stood out like
a sore thumb. ‘But I got along with everyone.
It was probably because I was
a little strange. ‘Mental health work has
always been in my life, ‘as, growing up, my mother was a
mental health worker. Mum taught me
how to be kind and empathetic, ‘so it’s always good to go and see
her and just have a download.’ You were brought up in
a total female environment.
I wasn’t the athletic type or… I was quite a strange child.
I was heavily bullied, obviously, and a lot of that had to do with
just not realising how to do that
male thing — being the alpha. With this venture that you’re on,
it does trouble me —
your mental health. As long as you’ve got
Mm. …because it’s a very hard road. (LAID-BACK MUSIC) His choice to finish his own
business and to go on the road, comes from a whole gamut of
different ideas — the loss of
friends, the way he felt that
it was such a waste. He is vulnerable. It’s like
the rest of us that give up
everything that we know. He’s given up the ability
to earn money. He’s not trying to be a counsellor;
he’s not trying to fix something.
He’s only saying to men, ‘Hey, talk to your mate.’ I really, really respect that part
of Sam and what he’s doing. (UPBEAT MUSIC) It’s amazing just waking up
to a new vista every morning. I open the back doors, I put a pot
of coffee on, and Bo gets out, and
we go for a walk, and that’s just a really
nice, nice way to live. (UPBEAT ROCK MUSIC) # Bully got it in for me. # Now I can never hardly sleep. # I keep dreamin’ on. # I keep dreamin’ on. # Barbering’s a really good way to get
to talk to guys, because you see
them every four weeks. It’s a real interpersonal
connection, especially for
a lot of guys — they don’t have another man touch
their face. That’s your personal
space, you know? If I came up to you and was like,
‘Hey, how you doin’?’ you’d go,
‘Whoa! Whoa! That’s so strange.’ But when it comes down to actually
talking between guys and you’re in
the barber’s chair, there’s something that
just kind of lets go, and that relationship is actually
something that the guys actually
start looking forward to when they know that that’s
a place that’s safe to talk. Barkers Groom Room is the premier
barbershop in Auckland, so we headed up there to have a talk
to some of the guys about what we
do. I’m just here to, really, just have
a conversation, and I do this in all
the barbershops I go to. I come along and I teach — I teach
barbers just a little bit of
barbering skills, fading and stuff like that. But I also put in just a little bit
of mental health literacy so we can learn a little bit more
about the guys that are in our
chair, because in the end, they’re
not just our bread and butter, but they’re our friends,
and we’re their confidants. ‘It’s important for these barbers
to know the warning signs ‘and also to be able to have
some kind of prevention strategy, ‘because they’re dealing with
these guys every four weeks.’ We’re really lucky as barbers that
we get to communicate with guys. We get to have conversations
that nobody else really does. Now, mental health in New Zealand is
seen as a binary thing — it’s on and
off — where in reality,
mental health is a spectrum. You know, we all know we wake up
one day and we’re 85%, we’re
walking on sunshine, going down the road, shooting
finger guns at all our mates,
and it’s a good day, you know? The birds are singing;
the ice cream’s cold. But some days we wake up and we’re
15%; we can’t get out of bed; we don’t
wanna deal with it; we’re just
over it; we might even be contemplating
suicide or having suicidal thoughts. This is normal. This doesn’t make
you any different to anybody else. And this is the kind of thing we
need to talk about with mental
health, because we’ve all got it. It’s not just people that are having
issues that have mental health. Sometimes we may talk to these guys
and they have a problem but we don’t
know who they should contact, so we can’t veer them anywhere. So
what would you recommend we do then? Lifeline, of course. That’s somebody
that I really do appreciate,
but also giving them,… I guess, just ways to express,
you know? Because when somebody
actually is able to articulate that, they’re gonna go away and develop
that a little bit more. A lot of the time, it’s just getting
the conversation started, and I
think that’s our responsibility. We’re not counsellors; we’re not
gonna fix somebody’s issues, but what we can do is
start the conversation. When I started what I’m doing,
I used to think that I’d be
able to get people help, and I would tell people that
I could get them help. In this mental health system,
that’s not the truth. There isn’t
enough help. And that’s why my idea is to go
out into communities and empower
communities to work it out — to empower you and me, to empower
your mates down the road to have
the conversation. Because this is where we start. Ready, dude? Jump out.
Good boy. (SNAPS FINGERS)
WHISPERS: Come on, boy. Let’s go. (RELAXED, UPBEAT MUSIC) This is only the start
of the mission. There’s so many more Ks to be done,
so many more conversations to be
had. There’s so much more life out there
that I need to go and interact with. But it starts at home,
with our families — talking about talking and
talking about our feelings. If I could say anything to the
nation, it would be, ‘Give somebody
a place to talk.’ (RELAXED, UPBEAT MUSIC CONTINUES)