Television New Zealand has removed a controversial Halloween house of horror video from its Re: news website.

In the piece, a Wellington couple showcase their house-turned replica psychiatric hospital, complete with morgue, electric shock table and hydro-therapy tools.

The video which was posted yesterday received backlash online, and users called for the piece to be taken down.

Mental Health Foundation chief executive Shaun Robinson said it's just not okay to make fun of a psychiatric ward.


"We wouldn't think it was funny to have a Halloween party based around a slave plantation," Robinson said.

One Facebook commenter said: "Do you really want to show these images that remind victims of their distress and perpetuate their suffering in order to provide 'fun' for ignorant viewers?"

The video took watchers through a "mental hospital" and included a scene with a straight jacket.

Re: is known for producing alternative and inclusive news, but its latest story has some in the mental health industry particularly concerned.

Changing Minds chief executive Taimi Allan has experienced electroconvulsive therapy and said people might have been re-traumatised by the use of the props.

"The concern for me is that people don't understand how real and affecting this is for people that have gone through a real-life horror."

She said some of the devices depicted as entertaining and fun would have been used on survivors who are still alive now.

Allan said she was particularly disappointed because Re: had received a grant from the Mental Health Foundation in 2017.


TVNZ spokesperson Rachel Howard said the company was sorry for any harm the video could have caused.

"We're really grateful to our commenters for highlighting how the use of asylums as horror entertainment can create stigma for the many New Zealanders who use mental health wards and mental health services today," Howard said.

The couple were approached for comment but did not respond.

Each year the couple celebrate their first date anniversary by decorating their home for Halloween. Last year's theme was horror movies.

The video served as a timely reminder that what is perceived as acceptable had changed, Allen said.

"I don't think these people deliberately tried to hurt anyone or cause discomfort, but unfortunately, because of the promotion of it, they have."


If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.


KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 or 09 5222 999 within Auckland (24/7)
NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (24/7)
SAMARITANS – 0800 726 666
• SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (24/7)
WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email

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