White Ribbon Ride 2012 – East Wind
February 18, 2013
The White Ribbon Ride for 2012 is over, and it was an incredible experience that proved to be very successful! Riders from all over the country joined forces to spread the message of non-violence to communities across New Zealand. We were received by so many welcoming and supportive communities who have been working hard to eliminate the presence of family violence throughout the country.
On the East Wind route we were very fortunate to have fabulous weather and very safe riding from the Patriots, Te Ahi Kikoha, and all the independent riders. With a core group of about 25 riders, we were lucky to be joined by 10-15 riders each day who found themselves unable to resist the kaupapa, the open road and the welcoming sense of community that is White Ribbon.
Each day the riders and crew were surprised at the energy of the organisers and participants in the numerous events we attended. Each community offered a different approach to celebrating the arrival of the riders and spreading the White Ribbon message. Each community demonstrated their own unique way of interacting with the riders and spectators. Some days we were lucky enough to visit traditional maraes only to be followed by a sack race with kids at the local community garden. The great range of activities and events along the East Wind route kept each day interesting and eventful. The different opportunities also allowed us all to appreciate the diversity that exists within each community.
There were so many highlights of the trip but what seemed to really stick with the riders and the support crew were the reactions from the children at the schools we visited. At first, so many of the children seemed anxious and wary of the visitors, but soon warmed to the concepts and messages behind White Ribbon. Seeing the kids become passionate about such an important cause was both rewarding and inspiring. The great majority of the school children put their inhibitions aside and began interacting with the riders and embracing the opportunity – realising what it was that the riders offered: a safe and proactive way to end violence towards women and children. Not to mention, the various activities, from tug-of-war to sack racing, were a great way for riders to enjoy some quality and stress-free time with the youth of the communities.
Perhaps the most meaningful aspect to our journey around the North Island was the opportunity to share stories with the other riders and to learn from each other. Each individual on the ride brought a unique perspective and history that added to the great diversity within the group. One especially trying story was that of Kristen Dunne-Powell, who courageously shared her story and her path to healing with all who would listen. There was even a special case on our trip where the riders were able to really do some positive anti-violence work as they helped a local woman find a safe house away from her abuser.
Getting to know so many people who have walked such different paths really consolidated the messages of White Ribbon and the far-reaching effects of family violence. Being able to witness the courage and perseverance of so many of the men and women riders who dedicate their lives to ending violence towards women and children is not only a special opportunity, but a privilege. It was particularly heart-warming to see the men and women of White Ribbon stand with their fellow riders as they shared their stories with the public. In these moments, it was so clear that despite any boundaries or obstacles these individuals may face, they have each other as a family to lean on for support. With the joining of so many different forces, the White Ribbon Ride 2012 proved to be an unforgettable 10 days of stories, tears, laughter and most importantly, change within ourselves and across the greater New Zealand community.
Bernadette Bernadette Palmeri
White Ribbon Ride Support Crew Member