‘Helen, the Helen Meads Tragedy’ debuted at number two on the non-fiction category in New Zealand

On the morning of 23 September 2009 Helen Meads was murdered by her husband Greg at the stables on their Matamata farm. It was the final chapter in years of control and abuse and has been documented by her Father and White Ribbon Ambassador, David White.

The book ‘Helen, the Helen Meads Tragedy’ debuted at number two on the non-fiction category in New Zealand bestseller lists after being launched by Women’s Refuge and White Ribbon last week.

“It’s a stunning book”, says Families Commission White Ribbon Campaign Manager Rob McCann. “David has told a story that all New Zealanders need to hear, that violence against women occurs across all of New Zealand.”

“It paints in vivid detail, the violence that took place in a wealthy home where the perpetrator used fear to get what he wanted. As with many other violent men, when that fear no longer worked and Helen announced she was leaving, the violence escalated, resulting in Helen’s tragic death”, says Mr McCann.

David’s book is not simply an attempt to make sense of Helen’s death, it is an educational tool that can help families see and understand the warning signs in relationships, and take informed action.

“I’m proud of my daughter Helen”, says David. “She was a wonderful person who was cut down in the prime of her life by a controlling and violent person. There is some justice in knowing that Helen’s killer is behind bars, but I need to do more than that. I need to make sense of the awful situation we found ourselves in, and do my part to ensure the violence against women is both understood and ended.”

Helen, the Helen Meads Tragedy

Helen, the Helen Meads Tragedy

“This book is an attempt to shine the light on abusive relationships. As parents, Pam and I didn’t recognise the warning signs, we didn’t know what to do, and tragically, neither did our daughter. If we had known to look on the Women’s Refuge website, Helen would have understood that the most dangerous time is when you are leaving an abusive relationship.”

Women’s Refuge Chief Executive Heather Henare agrees. “Too often women are not aware of the warning signs, and friends or family don’t know how to help. That Helen was killed so close to leaving and starting a new life is a tragedy, one that repeats too often across New Zealand.”

“This book exposes the behaviour that Helen’s husband used to control the relationship. By working with David, we can give a voice to Helen and help prevent further heartache”, says Ms Henare.

  • David White is a White Ribbon Ambassador and proud supporter of Women’s Refuge
  • Contact Rob McCann for interviews with David White
  • Published by David Ling Publishing and available at all good bookstores
Rob McCann
White Ribbon Campaign Manager
04 917 7045 or 029 917 7045


Key Messages of the White Ribbon Campaign


Violence towards women is unacceptable

It is ok to ask for or offer help

No violence is tolerable. If you know someone who is being frightened or intimidated by the behaviour of someone else, it is not OK.

Violence isn’t just the physical, it’s also emotional or verbal behaviour used to control someone through fear. Things we say, or don’t say, contribute to the abuse.

Men must stand up and provide leadership

White Ribbon Day is the international day when people, particularly men, wear a White Ribbon to show they won’t tolerate, condone or remain silent about violence towards women.

It originated as a men’s movement in Canada and is now part of the United Nations annual calendar (International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women).  The Families Commission took a leadership role in New Zealand in 2006.

Men are part of the solution

Whether you are a husband, father, brother, uncle or granddad – we all have women in our lives that we love, and wouldn’t want to see subjected to violence. We all want our children to grow up in a happy, healthy environment and to go on to have happy, healthy relationships.

The campaign aims to change men’s attitudes and behaviours predominately through men talking to men, in ways that men understand. Men are role models for our children. We need to nurture a culture that encourages respect and rejects violence.

Like our White Ribbon Ambassador Ruben Wiki, we can play sports with controlled aggression, ride bikes and engage in physical activities, but we must not bring violence into our homes.

By simply wearing a White Ribbon, you can make it clear to other men that you do not tolerate violence against women.

You can also make sure your home, your business or your sports club is a safe environment where abusive behaviour is not tolerated.

The White Ribbon Campaign encourages men to talk openly about domestic violence, to break the silence around the subject. We encourage men to challenge comments, statements and actions that are abusive, and support those who wish to change their abusive behaviour.


Ruben Wiki was the first White Ribbon Ambassador.

There are now some 30 Ambassadors including the Prime Minister.

White Ribbon Ambassadors are chosen for:

§         their support for the principles of the campaign.

§         their willingness to challenge the behaviour of abusive men.

§         their willingness to encourage others to do the same.

§         their commitment to conveying the messages of the White Ribbon Campaign to other men within their community.


Statistics in New Zealand:

In New Zealand most violence towards women takes place in the home.

In violence between couples, it is men’s violence that is most likely to cause serious physical or psychological harm.

An average of 14 women a year are killed by their partners or ex-partners.

There are over 3500 convictions recorded against men each year for assaults on women.

One in three women will experience partner violence at some point in their lives.

The Families Commission and White Ribbon Committee work with multiple agencies and NGOs to coordinate the national campaign. The White Ribbon campaign complements but is separate from the family violence It’s not OK campaign.

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White Ribbon is a community led campaign to end men's violence towards women

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