Diary of a White Ribbon Rider (via an iphone) South Island White Ribbon Ride
November 20, 2014
I missed the first half of the first day as I had to arrange the West Coast functions, so only joined the ride north of Greymouth.
We had the evening function at the Greymouth Baptist church were there was standing room only. We had members from cyf, te rito, dhb, women’s refuge, home builders, the men’s group, west coast family
violence net work and the hub, John Sturgeon the former all black manager, the mayor of Greymouth Tony Kokshoorn and Maureen Pugh to name a few. Students from Greymouth High, Tai Potini and Lime Light Drama provided entertainment that was family violence orientated.
This was followed by a community meal where people got to speak with the riders one on one.
Day two started with breakfast prepared by the advance Mawhera Masonic Lodge and then a visit to John Paul High School and St Particks Primary School in Greymouth before attending Hokitika Primary School. The students from all three schools got very excited over the bikes and provided good warm west coast welcomes. The west coast lived up to its reputation with plenty of rain till we got into the pass and we went from rain to snow. It was a very wet and cold group of riders who made it through the pass and into sunshine on the Canterbury Plains.
To read about the launch click on the photo from the Nelson Mail.Nelson MP Nick Smith likened raising awareness on family violence to changing attitudes about drink driving, which used to be accepted when he was a child, but through changing attitudes, was no longer. “It’s about changing attitudes. We can pass all the laws we can, and have a cop on every corner street, but it’s about attitudinal changes.” The White Ribbon Riders were championing societal changes, Smith said. Nelson had relatively low levels of crime overall, but the “domestic violence figures tell a sorry story of women and children living in fear”. Nelson city councillor Matt Lawrey said the riders were role models in their communities. “You are role models for other men, saying to them, especially young men, ‘it’s not OK. Violence is never acceptable and that men should do something about it, and men should stand up for something they believe in’,” Lawrey said.
Day three was an early start with us leaving the Te Rehua marae at 06:30hrs to ride to Timaru. Nice and dry but still a chill in the air at that time of the morning. We had a nice clear ride through Christchurch onto State Highway One and down to Timaru. We got a very warm welcome at the Mountainview High School and good show of support from the Timaru Police. Colin rode his Harley Soft-tail through the front doors of the school and into the assembly hall to rapturous applause from the students. Eru, Bess and Ian all spoke about the issues of family violence and bullying. We then got invited outside to a display of two hundred chocolate muffins with White Ribbons iced on top. From Timaru we rode through to Fairlie then Tekapo for a chat with the locals before riding through to Mt Cook to visit the village school with some very excited children who loved the bikes. From there it was through to Twizel and onto Wanaka for the last stop of the night. Although nice and clear it was windy enough that a number of our white ribbon flags took a battering including mine. So day three was 500 kms of nice but cold riding.
Day four of the ride started with a nice lay in. I didn’t have to get up till half six, bliss. We rode into Wanaka with a
Police escort and have breakfast at Kai Whakapai with the Mayor of Wanaka and a number of White Ribbon supporters.
We then visited Wanaka primary where Eru and Tiki had the kids singing and dancing. They should have a tv show. From there we rode through to Clyde and another Police escort. Unfortunately we are not able to visit every school but the local Police in Clyde and Alexandra arranged for us to ride past every school in the area so that all the children got to see the bikes. It was great to see their happy faces as they lined the street to see us. Great support by the local police and I can’t praise them enough. Cheers guys.
We visited Terrace primary in Alexandra and got a fantastic welcome. This time the poor kids had to listen to me talk. From there we rode through to Arrowtown and then Queenstown. We had a great welcome from the children at Queenstown primary and Eru, Chuck and Blair spoke to the kids about bulling and cyber bullying as well as family violence. Tiki lightened the mode with a song which the kids loved. We then traveled through to Invercargill. Great weather today and only had rain from Arrowtown. We finished the day in Invercargill with a warm welcome to the Murihiku Marae. Another long day and another 400kms covered.
We started the morning in Invercargill at seven and lots of rain. As an Irishman living on the West Coast I am used to rain, but even I have to admit this rain was heavy! We rode through to Bluff and had a community breakfast at the Light house. Great welcome with some great people. From Bluff we rode back through to Invercargill and attended an event at Southland Boys High school. We then traveled through to Gore and a great Southland welcome. The Police in Southland gave the same great support that we saw in Otago. Great effort guys its really appricated.
On leaving Gore we continued through the rain to Tapanui to attend the A&P show which caused a little excitement when five of us hit a slippery patch of road and started to fishtail. Thankfully none of us came off. We arrived safe and sound at the A&P show which was in full swing even with the weather. By this stage my wet weather gear had given up the ghost and run for the hills and all three layers of clothing felt like I had been for a swim.
We left Tapanui to travel through to Dunedin and about half way there when I had lost all feeling in my fingers and toes I had a thought. We must be nuts. As I thought about this I pictured my three daughters and how I didnt want them to be victims of violence. I also thought about the number of domestic incidents I had attended when I was a police officer and the number of homicides I had investigated when the partner was the offender. It was at that point I realised that I would be nuts not to be here spreading the word to stop this disease.
We arrived very wet and cold in Dunedin but still positive. 322kms today. We broke the 2000km mark for the ride all up. Looking forward to tomorrow and the events at the Octagon. Hope to see some of you there.
Not to much riding today. Although after five days in the saddle my bottom had no complaints. We arrived in Dunedin last night and got a nice long sleep, it was half seven before Colin kicked us out of bed. I could have kissed him as normally its a six o’clock wake up.
We rode down to the University to meet our Police escort. Once formed up it was a short ride into the Octagon. What a great reception. A bouncy castle. Then things went down hill. I was too big to have a go! When I was a kid I was too small now, I am to big. Cant get a break.
We had the local Police cooking sausages and pickets and local community groups giving out muffins. Must be heaven. Getting free food and no rain. Eru spoke first and then called me up to speak, followed by Chuck.
We have all three Napier brother’s on the ride which is a great show of family support. A great turn out by the locals and a great turn out by the NGOs . I have no idea how many photos I posed for today, but it felt like a being a movie star. Great work by the local Police which we have come to expect now in Otago. Thank you Dunedin for such a great welcome.
Day seven started with us on the road for half seven. A second dry day with glorious sunshine. Everything was going great till we stopped to fill up and one rider put diesel in the bike rather than petrol. I wont say who but you know who you are!
After we had the tanked drained we met up with the Blueknights Police motorcycle club who joined us on our way to Timaru. Great sight with forty bikes riding together with dry roads and blue skies.
We arrived at Timaru to a fantastic welcome by the local MP Jo Goodhew and the Mayor of Timaru Damon Odey along with members of local community groups.
I got called on by Chuck to talk again, and then we had some well needed juice to rehydrate.
We then traveled through to Ashburton and a visit to Hampstead school. All of the teachers got a trip on the back of the bikes much to the delight of the kids. Typical Irishman one day of sun and my face is burnt. We then traveled through to Christchurch for the big march tomorrow.
On the road for seven to ride down to the Christchurch Women’s Hospital and had a great breakfast with the staff. Thank you guys for the hospitality.
We then hit the road to the Christchurch Police station for the White Ribbon March and what a turnout. We had members of the Army, Navy, Air-force, Police, Fire Brigade and Ambulance staff along with the guys from LSV, Stopping Violence Services and many other NGO’S as well as members of the public.
We rode at the back while everyone walked to the park. After the one minute silence the LSV guys did a great Haka ,then we went to the reception where we had a number of speakers. Some very strong and powerful messages put forward around the issues of family violence.
After that we went to Ricarton Primary to meet some very excited children who had loads of fun dancing with Tiki as he taught them his white ribbon ride song. I think if he recorded it he would have a hit on his hands.
We then went to Philipstown School by which time the rain was back on and we had gotten back into our standard dress of soaking wet clothing. The rain did not dampen the spirits of the kids and we spoke with them about bulling and family violence.
Tomorrow is out last day on the ride and so we went out for dinner to share a few stories and consolidate the friendships that had formed from such a diverse group of people. Good food, good people and a good kaupapa.
My last day of the ride, I have run out of leave and have to get back to work.
I said my goodbyes to the riders who were leaving Christchurch to finish the ride in Blenheim and I headed back to the West Coast.
Nine days in the saddle and just over 3000kms, my poor bike needs a good clean and I need a bath.
As I rode on my own over the pass I had plenty of time to think about the ride. To be honest it was one of the worst rides I have ever done due to the weather, but also by far the best ride due to the company of the other riders, the message we passed on, and the people we got to meet.
I will start saving now so that I can do this again next year and hope to get the message out to more people that in New Zealand we do have a Domestic violence problem.
I have seen more violence in people’s homes as a Police officer than I saw while serving with the Army in Bosnia.
If you have not taken the pledge yet please do it now and become part of the solution, rather than the problem.