Kawerau March – Sat 09 Feb 2013
January 30, 2013
In late December 2012 my sister and I attended the funeral for our nephew who was murder by his uncle. Our nephew was 23 years old. We both said that we were tired of attending funerals for our whānau who have died from violence. We should have a community-wide March – no more violence in Kawerau.
We called a public meeting through Facebook and a small group attended. Their stories were similar – people in our beautiful community were hiding in their homes to frightened to come out. Families used to be able to go work, come home have a meal and then go for a walk. But now, since so many have been harassed, they don’t go for walks anymore. You have to run in groups to keep safe.
The elderly are assaulted in their homes with no provocation. We’d all had enough. We wanted to tell the bullies we would not tolerate violence anymore. Bullies, go get yourselves sorted out or leave this town. No more violence. We divided the community into four quadrants and called them north, south, east and west. These quadrants were given team leaders who were tasked with the delivery of flyers and to lead their March from four schools as starting points. We agreed that those should be the four schools of Kawerau which are Kawerau Putauaki School, Kawerau South School, Tarawera High and Te Whata Tau O Putauaki.
I called the Families Commission for help and they gave us the White Ribbon Campaign team. We needed help. We had the vision, we needed advice, guidance and direction. We needed their inspiration, and most importantly we needed their resources or at the very least access to their resources, namely the White Ribbon Riders and toolkits.
We had just under four weeks to get this message across this community – we also needed the community organisations, businesses and the Kawerau District Council to assist us. All were forthcoming and without hesitation we got council reserve at no charge, staging for guest speakers at no cost, thanks to ISS Kawerau; we got power from Hire Quip through a donated generator and cones; we got 4x3mx600mm banners with Stop Violence Against Women, Stop Violence Against Children, Stop Violence Against Families, Stop Violence Against Elderly donated by Law Signs Whakatane; we got water donated from Otakiri Water, Living Waters and Bream Bay Community Trust; the schools sent flyers home with their children; Te Whata Tau O Putauaki gave us their white ribbon and Ripene Ma Banners, EastBay Reap and Family Works staff painted by hand all our banners and Kawerau Youth came together to help paint banners. The churches of Kawerau who were becoming invisible because of the high levels of violence, all stood up and attended the march. It was for the kaupapa.
The White Ribbon Riders led our march from the four corners of Kawerau and the walkers had chants and slogans that were their vocal messages. They all met up and walked into the park together. It was amazing. Mayor Campbell and I watched them from the stage.
Our guest speakers were White Ribbon Ambassadors and riders; David White, Mark Longley, Phil Paikea, Takurua Tawera, Aaron Morrison along with Sue Rudman and local boy Kyle Mercer. Our ambassadors had the crowd in tears, with their provocative stories and asking the crowd to change. Don’t wait until it’s too late, change now, do something now, speak up now. Phil Paikea got all the men in the crowd to stand and go to the front. He asked them to put their hands up for change; to make a commitment to protect our women and children; for unity so that the land could be healed from violence. It was great.
Mayor Malcolm Campbell came along for the whole day and has now committed to adding this kaupapa to his Council Taskforce and will be inviting some from our team to participate in building strategies to influence change in our community, quadrant by quadrant.
That’s success in my eyes. Influencing change, and the Kawerau District Council now has this kaupapa on their agenda.
Te Orohi Paul
STOP VIOLENCE IN KAWERAU
The march to end violence was held on Saturday 09 February 2013 at 10:00am organised by the Kawerau Community. There were four starting points: Kawerau Putauaki Normal School, Kawerau South School, Tarawera High School, Te Whata Tau O Putauaki and the marchers joined together at the Reserve at the Kawerau Skate Park. Guest speakers included David White, Mark Longley, Takurua Tawera, Phil Pakea and Kyle Mercer. White Ribbon Riders were organised by Te Ahi Kikoha.
Communities Working Together: Tuwharetoa ki Kawerau HESS, Kawerau POLICE, Kawerau Schools, Kawerau District Council, Manna Support Services, Kawerau Enterprise Agency, Kawerau Churches with support from The Families Commission.