Rodger Barlow – White Ribbon Ambassador

Rodger Barlow

Rodger Barlow

I was bought up in what is now a very desirable area of the North Shore of Auckland. To me, Devonport and its immediate environs was just a reasonably large playground. Swimming at Narrow Neck or Cheltenham beach, if not in the tidal estuary at the bottom of our section, sailing my small yacht on the harbour, and playing endless games of cricket are my summer memories. Winter was soccer and rugby, both played with enthusiasm and a complete lack of skill on my part. Most people should be able to have memories such as these, but I now know that not all are able to do so.

My father had a small business in Devonport, so when I left school I started an apprenticeship with him. It was around this time that I became aware that not all of my friends and acquaintances had the same safe upbringing as I had. Many times during my school years I had wondered about the bruises and accidents that some of my friends had. When I started work, my circle of friends expanded and I met people with different views of life and experiences that I had never imagined would exist. Mostly they were people who had what is now known as a dysfunctional family. Much of the problem was caused by alcohol, and I am sure that many of the fathers were suffering from stresses and depressions left over from WWII. Of course, at this period of time, these were not recognised as an identifiable and possibly treatable illness. However, abuse, usually physical, was a fact of life for some of these people, and they mostly succeeded in keeping it secret, but there was the occasional comment or slip of the tongue that made me aware of the situation. Did I do anything about it? No. Why not? Well, it really wasn’t my problem was it? I did mention it to my parents at one stage and was told by them that,” yes these things did happen but not in our family”. The classic “if we ignore it, it will go away” process. I believe that many people were and maybe still are using this approach. Preferring to ignore the issue rather than do anything about it.

However, life continues, and I got married and then applied for Secondary Teacher Training. At that time there was a major shortage of Technical Teachers and I won a position in one of the intakes. This was the era of one year full-time specialist teacher training programmes, so at the end of the swinging sixties there I was, standing in front of my first class of around 30 boys. Talk about a steep learning curve. I stumbled from one crisis to another for the first six months and seriously doubted my ability to carry on in the profession. The school I taught at was in the centre of a low social economic area and gangs were a fact of life for many of the students. Training college had not prepared me for these people, and neither had my previous life experiences. A senior teacher at the school, now sadly passed, must have seen something in me and took it upon himself to mentor me. Not only was I mentored by this man, but I was introduced to a way of working with the disadvantaged youth of the area. I can remember working with one of the local Maori wardens and visiting houses in the early hours of the morning looking for children who had, for various reasons, not gone home after school. The process would not work today with the current laws, but it was reasonably successful for us. It was during this period of time that I developed my social justice ideals.

Next period of my life was the 18 years I spent working for a tertiary training centre in Hamilton. I started the section that I worked in, built it up to the second largest of its kind in NZ and looked after two full-time staff. The students we had were a diverse bunch of adolescents. Some were great and some weren’t. These were male students between 16 and 21 years of age, full of testosterone and bullet proof. For many of them, violence and alcohol was a fact of life, it was used to solve personal problems, it was used on and off the football field, and a couple of times, was used in the classroom to solve some imagined or real slight. More than once, I went to the local police station on a Friday morning to check on the well-being of my students. On the other hand, when one of my students was arrested for selling drugs, I found myself on the prosecution team. We won, he lost.

Then, at the beginning of 1990, I changed jobs and went back to teaching in a state school. Life was much quieter there until September 1993, when a young female living not far from the school was murdered, along with her two young children. This was a particularly gruesome murder as all the victims had their throats cut and the perpetrator was the young girl’s partner. At the subsequent trial he was deemed to be insane by the jury and was found not guilty as a result. What made this more horrifying was the fact that the girl was a friend of my daughter, and she had been a guest at our home on several occasions. It was because of this incident that I became a member of Victim Support in Hamilton, and I worked with them for a period of time. During my time with Victim Support I spent a great deal of my time with victims of violence of one form or another, much of it perpetrated by males against females. I was uncomfortable at times in this role – here I am, a male, trying to get the confidence of a female who has been assaulted by a male, often her partner and the father of her children. There were times when I did not do too well, and I felt that I had let people down, but maybe what I did was helpful to them in the big picture. There were also other occasions when people had lost children in motor vehicle accidents and I found these cases difficult for me, for a number of reasons.

Eventually, I won a position in a central King Country school, and moved down there to teach. I did not continue with my Victim Support work whilst I was there, but I did get an inkling of what some people have been unfortunate enough to go through when I had an altercation with one of the male students. He threatened to kill me and, for some reason, the Deputy Principal – a threat that I did not take seriously at the time. I thought that it was just an adolescent young man blowing off steam. However the incident was reported to the Police, and the boy was arrested that night, some one hundred metres from my home. When arrested he was carrying a boning knife and a steel bar. He spent time in the cells and appeared in court where he was sentenced and released into the care of a Youth initiative that specialised in cases like his. Apart from seeing him at the requisite family conference, where he tried to attack me with a chair, I have not seen him since the day at school, but I understand that he is back in the community, now working.

Underlying all of these events has been the aggression that some males are not able to control or direct. I believe that much of what I have witnessed, or been privy to, is evidence of learned behaviour or ingrained behaviour, in that often the perpetrators have witnessed violence being used to solve issues, and they do not understand any other methods. This unfortunately is a method used by a minority of students in school, a problem that teachers are only too aware of. These students are the by-product of the environment they grow up in, and I believe, therein lies the problem.

I now work part-time in a Secondary School in the Counties/Manukau area, I am the Post Primary Teachers Association’s Executive Member for the region, working voluntarily for the teachers of my area and I find life far less stressful than I have in the past.

I believe that White Ribbon has a role to play in reducing the number of incidences such as those I have outlined. We are not experts, but we have knowledge and collectively there is a vast amount of experience that can be channeled. Here is an opportunity for us to take the initiative, be role models, talk about our own experiences, and stand up against this inappropriate behaviour. Men talking to men about their experiences, good and bad, can help. Just having a person who is not judgmental to talk to and unload to may be the catalyst needed to help a man who has an anger management problem, or does not know any other way of solving problems. White Ribbon can assist in this cause.

White Ribbon Ride Leader is now an Ambassador


South Island White Ribbon Rider leader Colin Agnew

Colin Agnew was the Vice President of the South Island Chapter of the Patriots Defence Force Motorcycle Club, and is now the leader of this year’s South Island leg of the White Ribbon Ride.

Mr Agnew has been involved with the White Ribbon Ride since it first began in 2008 and is very pleased to become an ambassador – though he may look tough, he has a soft heart.

“The ride means a lot to me, and the stories I’ve heard have only increased my determination to keep coming back each year.”

One memorable ride was 2011 when a woman in Gore recognised his motorbike and approached him with her three children. The woman had talked to him at a White Ribbon Ride a few years before, and told them it gave her the confidence to pack up and leave her violent household. She said she was now living in Gore, safe and happy with her children.

“It’s a sign to me that I need to keep doing this as long as it takes.”

It’s these kinds of stories, both from those closest to Agnew and complete strangers which encourage him to continue to want to help those suffering from family violence.

“I don’t think anyone has the right to abuse someone, and that sharing their stories helps not just the person in that situation but encourages others to speak out too.”

The White Ribbon Ride will be visiting towns throughout the South Island this year, and will need help from organisations to host them.

Riders can join in the Ride at any location and can participate for the day, or the week and take part in the events that are held by each town.

This year we will also be encouraging scooters and bikes under 250cc’s to join in when the event is within the city limits.

The ride spreads the White Ribbon anti-violence message, by going directly into communities where violence can often be pervasive.

It proves to men you can still be tough without having to condone abuse, and allows women to see that not all men are violent.

The Ride will launch from Nelson on the 17th November, and travel down the West Coast reaching Haast on 19th and traveling through Wanaka on 20th. By the 22nd the rides reaches Invercargill before beginning the ride north through Dunedin and onto Christchurch for White Ribbon day on 25 November and ending in Blenheim on 26th.

South Island White Ribbon Ride

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Peter McLaren takes up new role as a White Ribbon Ambassador


Peter McLaren

Peter McLaren, founder of McLaren Associates, is the latest to join the ranks of White Ribbon Ambassadors, who want to see men stand up and say No to violence against women.

Mr McLaren recently retired as Managing Director of McLaren Associates in Wellington after 26 years, and has decided to take on new roles, saying he was very pleased to be approached by White Ribbon to become an Ambassador.

The announcement came on his 70th birthday celebration among friends and family, including his long-time friend Judge Peter Boshier, Chair of White Ribbon, who made the announcement.

“I’m very proud to be a part of White Ribbon” he said.

Family is his number one priority in life which he notes as “first and foremost” in his life. Though he believes he grew up rather sheltered from violence in his modest upbringing in a safe and loving environment, he wishes to make those around him more aware of the nature of violence toward women and how much goes unsaid.

“It’s something I detest. Violence, I just can’t stand.”

McLaren has had lots of involvement with Wellington and other community initiatives in the past, having been Chairperson for the Wellington After Care Association, on the board of Rotary Wellington and SPCA Wellington and Committee Member of Variety Club, along with numerous other roles.

His involvement in White Ribbon is a new direction as he begins afresh to take some time and decide what he will do next. He says he will proudly wear the White Ribbon to demonstrate his zero tolerance of violence against women.

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Kelvin Davis joins White Ribbon and urges us to #Speakout

Kelvin Davis is asking us to #speakout against sexual violence

Kelvin Davis is asking us to #speakout against sexual violence

Kelvin Davis has been busy. Recently he helped to organise a march from West Auckland to Cape Reinga that began on Friday 29 May to raise awareness of sexual violence. The Massive: Men Against Sexual Violence walk is the first of its kind to be held in the country organised by men, and took 17 days and covered more than 400 kilometres beginning in West Auckland and ending at Cape Reinga.

We are also proud to announce that Kelvin has also become a White Ribbon Ambassador.

“One of my priorities coming in to Parliament was to stand up and say enough is enough over sexual violence,” says Kelvin Davis.

“It is with real pride that I have been asked to become a White Ribbon Ambassador and it is a responsibility I take seriously. I believe those of us who are committed to being loving and respectful men need to speak out loudly and clearly that we will not tolerate violence in any form, be it verbal, physical, emotional or sexual. The vast majority of men are good men;  we just need to make it known to our sons, brothers, fathers, uncles, cousins, nephews and mates who are violent, that their behaviour needs to change. Violent behaviour is a choice. With our collective determination we can turn the tide of violence against women, children – and other men, even if we have to do it one man at a time.

The #SpeakOut Men Against Sexual Violence (MASSIVE) Hikoi was a success. Our goal was to raise awareness about sexual violence and to encourage people to #SpeakOut. This was achieved through excellent media coverage, rallies in towns, visits to schools, visibility while on the road, support of Members of Parliament from across all political parties, calls to our 0800 MASSIVE helpline and regular social media updates.

We encouraged people to #SpeakOut if they were survivors, bystanders or are perpetrators. Survivors need to tell someone for support, bystanders need to intervene, and perpetrators need to get help before they commit harmful sexual behaviour. At its most basic level harmful sexual behaviour is a choice that perpetrators make and often the behaviour can be changed if addressed.

We are grateful to White Ribbon, Green Ribbon, The Redeemed Riders and numerous other supporters including Labour Leader Andrew Little, for their tautoko of us on the final day as we marched up to Cape Reinga.

The Hikoi has ended but the journey to end sexual violence continues. Although sexual violence is perpetrated by females and males against females and males, men make up the majority of offenders. The crucial voices missing from conversations about sexual violence are the voices of men. If we are part of the problem we need to be part of the solution. We are looking to other ways now to spread the #SpeakOut MASSIVE message across the country and to keep the issue in the public eye.

Kelvin Davis MP

All political parties have got behind the event and a help-line (0800 MASSIVE) is now available for anyone wanting to disclose issues around sexual violence.

All political parties have got behind the event and a help-line (0800 MASSIVE) is now available for anyone wanting to disclose issues around sexual violence.


A quick look back

  • Visit the Massive Facebook page here
  • Take a photo and post using the tag #speakout
  • Donate to Massive here
  • Watch Kelvin talk on Marae about the Hikoi here
Visit the Massive Facebook Page

Visit the Massive Facebook Page

Hutia te rito o te korari
Kei hea te komako e ko?
If you destroy the centre shoot of the flax
Where will the bellbird sing?
It has been said that sexual violence destroy whakapapa. A story was relayed to us about a young girl who accused her father of sexual violence against her. The girl’s grandfather banned the girl from their marae and she now lives in Australia and has little to do with her family. Sexual violence has destroyed that family, she has lost the connection with her whanau, her whakapapa.
A whanau is like a flax bush. The young shoots (rito) are in the centre protected on the outside by awhi rito (parents) and tupuna leaves. If the centre shoot is destroyed, the native komako (bellbird) has nowhere from where to sing. The komako’s magnificence will not be realised for the world to hear.
Sexual violence likewise makes it extremely difficult for those affected to realise their full magnificence and to be recognised in their world.
Hence the symbolism of the komako and flax bush as a tohu (emblem) for Men Against Sexual Violence. #SpeakOut

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Supporting White Ribbon – St Hildas Collegiate – Dunedin

Josie Kyle and Madison Hughes are helping to raise awareness and funds for White Ribbon

Josie Kyle and Madison Hughes are helping to raise awareness and funds for White Ribbon

“Violence to women is a tragedy that runs deep within New Zealand society” say Josie Kyle and Madison Hughes of St Hilda’s Collegiate. “It’s also something that isn’t talked about often, even though it drastically affects people’s lives. We attend an all-girls school and find this issue relevant to our school and its special character. Violence to women is also very topical and we want to help the New Zealand community and do our part to raise awareness in New Zealand.”

We asked what prompted Josie and Madison to support White Ribbon?

“Initially we both sat down with our Chaplain and explained our wish to help a cause. We found White Ribbon to be a valuable charity in New Zealand. It supports a cause that should not be an issue in New Zealand and yet unfortunately is. We hope to raise awareness for this cause and bring the issue to light in our community.

As it seems to be a topic that people avoid as a conversation topic, we want to make people think about it and not avoid it. We’re going to be selling the white ribbons to our school and community with the support of the Z-Club that we are also in, and we have planned a mufti day in the third term with all proceeds going towards the charity. By doing these things we hope that women will realise that there is a support network for them, and hopefully they will feel encouraged to get help if they find themselves in an abusive relationship.

“We have had the full support of our Chaplain, Z-Club and Senior Leadership at St Hilda’s Collegiate. We are hoping that in future years we will make this an annual event that is passed down with two year twelves and two year thirteens organising the event. Ideally this will create a connection between our school and White Ribbon and each year we hope it will grow.”

On behalf of White Ribbon, we’d like to thank Josie, Madison and St Hilda’s Collegiate. We are supplying them with free ribbons which they are then selling to raise awareness and funds for the White Ribbon Trust.




Karen’s Story

It all started in 2010. My Mum had just gotten together with her boyfriend, Richard. We would go and visit them every chance we got. It was a two-hour drive, but we managed. I also have a brother and sister, Sam and Jacob. He has a daughter named Hannah. When we went round we would go fishing and shearing, we thought he was awesome. After a year, we all moved out to a country house only a half an hour drive away. We loved it there. I remember us going down to the creek and paddling in the water. Sometimes I would wake up at 5:00 am, look out the window and see a sheep staring at me.

My sister slept at the end of the hallway and she could see down the hall. I remember she told me once that she heard them having a bad argument and he was about to do something but saw Sam so he stopped. But since I trusted him so much I said that she was lying. One night I woke up to them nearly screaming at each other and then mum ran into my room that I shared with my brothers room and hugged him and just cried. The next morning was the weekend, we left at about 8:00 in the morning, aunty came to pick us up. Mum decided it was best for us to shift into our own house. Mum told us that Richard cheated on her with a few other ladies.

A while passed without anything bad happening, mum decided to give him another chance. But we weren’t allowed to see him and that meant seeing mum way less, or she would be on her phone texting him when we were there. I remember dad was looking after us for 1 night and I started crying because of how much I missed her. We once stayed with my dad for a whole week because of it.

One time my mum got $1,000 and she went to Richard’s with it. We woke up at about 7:00 am the next morning and started watching some TV in our room. My dad was still in bed when we heard a knock. Dad went to answer it and it was my mum. We heard her crying and crying. My dad took her in the lounge and talked to her. Hannah, my step sister, was picked up by her mum at around about 8:00 am and that’s when dad came up and told us what really happened. Her money had gone missing and Richard had blamed it on his new workmate. They went over to his house, but no luck. They went back to the house and after a little while she found her wallet hidden away. She realised that Richard had taken it and confronted him, after that she ran to the bedroom and cried. He apparently came up to the bedroom and started beating her. They said if he didn’t stop he probably would have killed her.

After a bit we were allowed to see her we walked out and she had black eyes, bruises and cuts. We both went over and hugged her, my grandad was there and so was my nana. They said that the police were coming to mum about what happened after a little bit he started to text her nonstop and try to contact her so she went to the police, They gave him a warning but he wouldn’t stop. After a little bit, the police ended up arresting him and he went to jail for half a year and he isn’t allowed 100 meters close to any of us. I think we are all a little bit nervous when mum gets a new boyfriend, but we haven’t heard from him in a couple years.

(all names have been changed)

Letter from Dr Russell Wills, Children’s Commissioner and White Ribbon Ambassador

Dr Russell Wills.   Photo by KEVIN STENT/Fairfax NZ

Dr Russell Wills. Photo by KEVIN STENT/Fairfax NZ

To those it concerns,

Do your children see you get angry and shout? Have they watched you lash out at their mum? Do they cower in the corner when you enter a room? Are they frightened of you?

It doesn’t have to be like this for your children. It shouldn’t be like this.

When you are violent it always affects your kids. It changes their development and it changes how well they’ll do in life. When they grow up they are more likely to be violent themselves, or be victims of violence. They are more likely to have major mental health problems, drug and alcohol problems and physical problems.

As a pediatrician – I’ve seen your kids in my clinic. Kids like the four-year-old girl with a developmental age of two. And like the little boy who wasn’t learning at school; not because of ADHD (like everyone thought) but because he was terrified that when he got home mum would be hurt or dead.

Your kids still love you but they want you to change. I think you love your kids too. I think you want your kids’ lives to be better than yours. I’ve seen dads turn their lives around because they love their kids and they love their kids’ mum. You can too.

It’s not too late. I’m asking you to step up and get help right now. I know this is not easy but take a positive step for the sake of your kids.

You could start by taking the White Ribbon pledge to promise to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence towards women. You could talk to someone you trust about your behaviour and ask for help. You could call the Family Violence Information Line on 0800 456 450.

Be the kind of dad your kids would love you to be. They want you to walk into a room and give them a cuddle, or play with them or talk about their day. They want to be happy to see you.

Most men in New Zealand are not violent. Become one of them.

Yours Sincerely
Dr Russell Wills

Other reading:

  • The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a global technical package to prevent violence against children, THRIVES. Read the article from the New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse here
  • In Aotearoa New Zealand, SKIP (Strategies with Kids│Information for Parents) provides a range of parenting resources, as well as funding, training, networking, hosting and support with evaluation. Resources are available for parents as well people working with parents and communities to provide support. “Whakatipu” kaupapa Māori resources reinforce how tamariki and parents can learn together through play at every age and stage. SKIP booklets are also available in 18 languages other than English.



White Ribbon Workshop

In this year’s campaign, White Ribbon is focusing on ‘Respectful Relationships.’

Respectful relationships’ is a simple description of the positive behaviour we want to be normal for everyone, instead of men’s violence against women being too often an everyday occurrence.

It involves using communication skills to safely share feelings and concerns, as well as treating partners as equals and ensure that consent is the basis of all relationships.

These building blocks have been proven to prevent violence and create happier, healthier lives for everyone

Within the campaign White Ribbon is also targeting the risks of sexual violence by promoting ’consent’. ‘Consent’ means there’s agreement by all participants in any sexual activity. If someone disagrees to the activity but the other person continues, it is sexual violence. By promoting consent, White Ribbon is working to prevent men’s sexual violence toward women. Mutual agreement (consent) is a significant aspect of a respectful relationship.

White Ribbon Ambassador Mark Longley talks about the campaign

White Ribbon Ambassador Mark Longley talks about the campaign

A key part of ‘respectful relationships’ is men treating women as equals by genuinely sharing decision-making, listening to her experience and deferring to her expertise. This provides significant protection against violence. This year’s campaign will be flexible so that different communities (and Ambassadors) will be able to explain both ‘respectful relationships’ and ‘consent’ in ways that work for their audiences.

White Ribbon will continue using its key strategy of men role-modelling good behaviour and challenging other men who use violence. That means you’ll be hearing from our White Ribbon Ambassadors, our White Ribbon Riders and anti-violence advocates from all around New Zealand.

This year we will also talk about men acting consistently both in private and public. This means that men will be as respectful towards their partners in private, as they are in public. It will also show that he values women publically as much as he does privately. This fits in with White Ribbon’s focus on changing men’s ‘social norms’ – ways that men think they need to behave around other men.

social norms

Social Norms

‘Social norms’ are how male attitudes and behaviours are shaped by male peers. They are a powerful influence, especially in regard to our notions about male power and how we behave towards women, including using violence. Changing male social norms is a common and proven strategy to preventing male violence.

Most New Zealand men already have respectful relationships with women and do not use violence. In this case, White Ribbon is about strengthening this behaviour and promoting it as the social norm for all men.

This campaign will also include a theme of promoting flexible behaviour. A man holding rigid views on what it means to be a man, or how a woman should behave, is at risk of being violent toward women, especially if he feels his views are threatened. Encouraging men to behave more flexibly, and not limiting them to only doing ‘manly’ things, will help prevent violence.


A relationship I’d like to be part of is… one of mutual respect & consent

Promoting ‘Respectful Relationships’ is a positive approach, which is more effective at getting men to support White Ribbon’s work.This involves: showing positive examples of equitable, respectful behaviour; strengthening current non-violent actions, attitudes and values; and providing a safe environment and framing discussion in terms of men’s responsibility. Internationally, the use of positive and affirmative messages has been proven to be a key feature of successful interventions with men.

White Ribbon is currently developing messages for this year’s campaign. These need to:

  • identify the action we want men to take by specifying desirable behaviour and explaining its benefits.
  • attract men’s attention with positive messages that appeal to men’s sense of responsibility and their positive intentions (such as wanting a better life for their children).
  • motivate men to adopt, or continue to use, respectful behaviour. Men are usually motivated to take action by hearing how women and children are hurt by violence, and/or seeing how violence compromises their religious, ethical or cultural values.
  • be tailored to different male audiences and reflect their diverse identities. For a man to notice White Ribbon messages he will need to see they’re for “people like me”, reflect “my life” and be delivered by messengers who are “from my world”.
Workshopping in progress

Work-shopping in progress

White Ribbon has already held two public workshops with experts, social services, interested organisations and government departments to develop this year’s campaign. At each workshop a presentation was made on Connecting with men – Ideas for White Ribbon 2015. This is available as a PDF (from This presentation is based on and includes the link to a research paper on effectively involving men in preventing violence.

We have also held a number of smaller workshops as we refine the campaign and begin to work with an agency before launching in November. If you have any ideas or wish to participate, please get in touch with us at







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