A former Shortland Street actor convicted of sex crimes against six women is starring in a play about overcoming depression and suicide.

Rene Naufahu has written and is set to perform in Elephant at the end of September in Mangere.

But victim advocate Louise Nicholas said she believed there appeared to be little thought given to how the survivors feel, and says the messaging around the play gives off a "poor me" attitude.

Others have raised concern about the project online and raised concerns with Auckland Council; owners of the play's venue.


The 50-year-old Kiwi actor was convicted in 2018 of indecently assaulting six victims at his acting classes between 2011 and 2013.

He initially denied any wrongdoing and even posted a video of himself publicly performing a poem which seemingly referred to the allegations against him.

But the actor admitted his offences just a week before he was due to go on trial in the Auckland District Court.

The New Zealand Screen Awards winner's sentence was finished in early 2019.

In a post on the new play's Facebook page, Naufahu wrote about how he had realised he had "nothing to live for".

He was "at my lowest, covered in shame, isolated by guilt and humiliation, abandoned by friend and family alike", then added: "the only way forward seemed to be to take the way out".

He was persuaded to stay alive for the sake of his children.

A few years ago when I was at my lowest, covered in shame, isolated by guilt and humiliation, abandoned by friend and...

Posted by Elephant on Sunday, 16 August 2020

He wrote fellow actor Pua Magasiva's suspected suicide last year hit him "like a baseball bat to the side of the head".


Magasiva died in May 2019, just two weeks after being convicted for assaulting his wife.

Naufahu wrote his death was the catalyst for the play.

He described the play as a "provoking, heartbreaking, heart making stage experience" and said he was "terrified to get back out there in front of people".

He hoped the play would encourage the audience to have the courage to talk to their loves ones.

"Then me and my mighty team would have done our job."

The wording of the post was criticised by Nicholas, who said there was no apology offered by Naufahu to his victims.


"For me it's all about the shame he brought on his family and on himself. There's no regard for the women he hurt, so that's really disappointing."

She said she was "saddened" the post had no reference to "survivors" of his offending.

"For him to move forward and do what he needs to do, not just for himself but actually for those that he harmed, he has to acknowledge to those women the harm that he caused, then look at writing a play around 'these are the consequences of my actions'."

Talking to the Herald, Naufahu said he was "devastated at the thought I might be causing more hurt at even attempting to make a positive stand".

"They can say what they feel and what represents them," he said. "Just as I am saying what I think needs to be heard better and what I hope can be accepted as now representing me.

"We all believe in the message. If we help just one other person who is suicidal, like I was helped, then bearing any negative criticism is something I am prepared for."


Naufahu said the message behind Elephant, which was confronting suicide, had to be brought "out of the darkness". It was imperative that those who were struggling still retained "hope".

"Because it is that hope, the hope that things can and will get better, that gets you through. That got me through it," he told the Herald.

The former TV star also said it was important that those who had "stuffed up, admit their mistakes, even serious ones, move on to try to do some good as a changed person".

"That's been my journey. I have done some bad things, which I regret, but in my life already I have done some good things too. I don't think I should stop doing the good things.

"If people out there want to find fault with that, I suspect they will find fault in anything I do. But I can't stand still scared of being judged. I don't think that is what anyone really wants. It's not what I would want for anyone else either."

Auckland Council manager of community places Kevin Marriott said the council was aware of concerns relating to the play, which is due to be held at the Māngere Arts Centre.


"We take these concerns seriously and would like to thank members of the community for raising this with us," he said.

They are working with the producers of Elephant to address the content of the play and "explore how viewers of the play may be appropriately supported by them".

If you're in danger NOW:

• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours of friends to ring for you

• Run outside and head for where there are other people

• Scream for help so that your neighbours can hear you

• Take the children with you


• Don't stop to get anything else

• If you are being abused, remember it's not your fault. Violence is never okay

Where to get help

• HELP Auckland - call 0800 623 1700.

• 211 Helpline (0800 211 211) – for help finding, and direct transfer to, community-based health and social support services in your area.

• Find your local Women's Refuge by calling 0800 743 843 (0800 REFUGE) to be linked up with an advocate in your area.

• Victim Support – call 0800 842 846. 24-hour service for all victims of serious crime.


• Victim Information Line/Victim Centre – call 0800 650 654 or email victimscentre@justice.govt.nz.

• Shine domestic abuse services – free call 0508 744 633 (9am to 11pm) if you're experiencing domestic abuse, or want to know how to help someone else.

• Family violence information line – call 0800 456 450 to find out about local services or how to help someone near you.

• Elder Abuse Helpline – call 0800 32 668 65 (0800 EA NOT OK) - a 24-hour service answered by registered nurses who can connect to local elder abuse specialist providers.

• Tu Wahine Trust – call 09 838 8700 for kaupapa Māori counselling, therapy and support for survivors of sexual harm (mahi tukino) and violence within whānau.

• Shakti New Zealand – call 0800 742 584 for culturally competent support services for women, children and families of Asian, African and Middle Eastern origin who have experienced domestic violence.


• Safe to Talk – sexual harm helpline. Call 0800 044 334, text 4334 or email support@safetotalk.nz.

• Rape Crisis Centres – call 0800 88 3300 for contact details of your local centre. Provides support for survivors of sexual abuse, their families, friends and whānau.

• Male Survivors Aotearoa New Zealand – call 0800 044 344. Offers one-to-one, peer and support groups for male survivors of sexual abuse and their significant others.

• Tu Wahine Trust – call 09 838 8700 for kaupapa Māori counselling, therapy and support for survivors of sexual harm (mahi tukino) and violence within whānau.

• ACC Sensitive Claims Unit – call 0800 735 566 for access to services related to sexual abuse or sexual assault.

• Hey Bro helpline – call 0800 HeyBro (0800 439 276). 24/7 help for men who feel they're going to harm a loved one or whānau member.


• Korowai Tumanoko – text or call 022 474 7044 for a kaupapa Māori service for those with concerning or harmful sexual behaviour.

• Stop – support for concerning or harmful sexual behaviour.

• Need to Talk? 1737 – free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor.

• Youthline – call 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email talk@youthline.co.nz.

• Kidsline – call 0800 54 37 54 (0800 kidsline) for young people up to 18 years of age (24-hour service).

• Skylight– call 0800 299 100 helping children, young people and their families and whānau through tough times of change, loss, trauma and grief.


• Oranga Tamariki – call 0508 325 459 (0508 FAMILY) or email contact@ot.govt.nz for concerns about children and young people.

Where to get help:
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youth services: (06) 3555 906
• Youthline: 0800 376 633
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
• Helpline: 1737
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

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