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Savage given earth-shaking welcome as he visits his old school to shoot mental health-themed music video

New Zealand hip-hop icon Savage received an incredible welcome as he visited his old school this morning to shoot the video for his new mental health-themed single "Reach Out". 

Savage - real name Demetrius Savelio - gave a powerful speech to Wesley College pupils before about the need for people to speak out when they are suffering.

Savage spoke of the death of his niece earlier this year after she lost her battle with depression, saying "for me and my family it was devastating.

"My daughters were very close with my niece, so when the news hit, it just kind of shattered our whole family," he said.

He made the decision to challenge himself into finding ways to use his musical abilities and reputation to encourage people to talk about mental health.

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Demetrius Savelio – better known as Savage – is filming a music video at Wesley College, and talked to students. Source: 1 NEWS

"The best way that I could do that was to share my own testimony," Savage said.

Growing up on the streets of South Auckland, he was surrounded by "youth gangs and a lot of violence and criminal activities," he said.

"During those times I went through a lot of hardship, I felt like I had lost everything.

"There's a moment in the video where I actually attempted to take my own life, but I was actually saved by my older brother.

"Imagine if I had done it? Look at all the music and the success that I would have missed out on - and my kids.

Source: TVNZ

"It's still very raw, very hard for me to talk about it now, even though it was 22 years ago, but it's a way of me encouraging those who are going through it."

He was expelled from two schools and it got to the point where he was in so much trouble - with bikie gangs involved - that his older brother pleaded with the headmaster of Wesley College to take him in.

"If I hadn't come here [Wesley College], I don't know where I would be, to be honest," Savage said.

One of the scenes in the "Reach Out" video depicts Savage coming to the school chapel, "broken", being received there, and "giving my heart to the lord".

After his speech, pupils treated him to a powerful rendition of a Wesley College tradition - a chapel chant.

Wesley College Principal Brian Evans. Source: 1 NEWS

Principal Brian Evans welcomed the chance for his students to hear Savage's message.

"I think it's fantastic getting past pupils to come in and share their experiences," Mr Evans said.

"He's got a story to tell about where he came from, and for our students, what the school did for him in terms of finding himself and his faith and then going on and being successful, and the hard work that he's put into that.

"A lot of kids are affected with wellbeing and mental illness and I think he's giving them the message to be strong and try to reach out to each other and help each other.

"It will definitely heighten the awareness - it's good to speak about it, and the fact that he's making a video about it based on his experiences, I think, will really enable kids to engage with the topic and find a way to seek help if they need it.

"It's just great to have him back here."

Wesley College is New Zealand's oldest registered school and is celebrating its 175th jubilee later this month.

Alumni include Jonah Lomu, Temuera Morrison, Ian Mune, Richard Taylor, Todd McClay, King George Tupou II, Stephen Donald, and Malakai Fekitoa.

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The college chants are a school tradition, with seniors teaching juniors, and they were glad to share it with Savage. Source: 1 NEWS