New Ambassadors announced at Matariki Event

Matariki Event in Auckland organised by SAFVPN

The Matariki event opened with the Hon Dr Pita Sharples who acknowledged more than 100 men, women and children who have died over a five year period through domestic violence or child abuse. These names included the likes of Helen Meads murdered by her husband, Bronwyn Sadler from Christchurch and 2 month old Tahi Elvis Edwards who was suffocated in the back of a car.

New White Ribbon Ambassador Dr Pita Sharples

Superintendent John Tims of Counties Manukau Police and Auckland Regional Director of Child Youth and Family, Grant Bennett spoke about the role of their agencies in supporting the families through these tragedies.

The most moving part of this event was when the names of the 100 or more people were read out said SAFVPN Co-Chair and newly appointed White Ribbon Ambassador George Ngatai. This was followed by the presentation of fellow White Ribbon Ambassador David White whose daughter Helen Mead was murdered by her husband in 2009.

“We need to stand up to abuse against women and go one step further against children and families as well. I am honored to be part of this campaign and I thought about it, what it would be like if it was my family, my wife, my 2 year old son who was killed and tears well up inside me. If I can help stop this abuse and stop one more life being taken by being a White Ribbon Ambassador I’m happy” George said.

SAFVPN Co-Chair and newly appointed White Ribbon Ambassador George Ngata

The White Ribbon Day campaign raises awareness of men’s violence against women – which in New Zealand is generally directed at wives, girlfriends and other intimate partners. White Ribbon Ambassadors encourage men to get involved by helping to challenge and change men’s abusive behaviour and attitudes towards women.

White Ribbon Ambassadors are chosen for their passion and commitment to ending violence towards women. There are now 43 ambassadors who use their public profile to champion a violence-free lifestyle to other men. Dr Sharples has co-chaired the Waitakere Task Force on Family Violence for many years, initially with former mayor Bob Harvey.

‘I’m honoured to have been nominated as a White Ribbon Ambassador,’ says Dr Sharples. ‘I have worn a White Ribbon for many years as a symbol of non-violence, and now to be asked to take a leadership role is very humbling.

‘I believe that our tamariki are our future and they deserve to grow up in homes that are violence-free, and I want to encourage young men to build relationships based on love and respect’ says Dr Sharples.

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