After a week out on the road, the annual White Ribbon Ride is heading into the final stretch, delivering the message that we need to Challenge the #UNSPOKEN RULES to communities across New Zealand.

Unspoken rules are the clichés such as ‘boys don’t cry’ and ‘toughen up’. These outdated ideas of masculinity harm our young men by limiting them to stereotypes that are fundamentally unhealthy. If you can’t express your emotions, you bottle them up and we know that men need to open up for their own mental health and to ensure they have healthy respectful relationships.

“The White Ribbon Ride began in New Zealand in 2009,” says Takurua Tawera, the lower North Island Ride Leader. “It provides an opportunity to get in front of communities that might otherwise not hear these messages from a campaign like White Ribbon.”

“Each campaign we try to visit around 80 communities where we deliver a specific campaign message in person,” says Mr Tawera. “The key is using personal stories that weave in messages. That way our riders are using their own experiences and stories to support the campaign.”

Ken Mahon, the new South Island White Ribbon Leader agrees, “The most powerful message is when it’s delivered from the heart or personal experience. That’s when you see an audience connect with a story or message.”

“The #UnspokenRules campaign is the strongest campaign I’ve been involved in. As young boys most of us have been told to toughen up or that boys don’t cry,” says Mr Mahon. “That type of pressure and advice is unhelpful and damaging.”

The Ride continues in the lower half of the North Island with a final event outside Parliament on White Ribbon Day (Monday 25th November, 12:30pm) with a special performance from the winner of White Ribbon’s high school Spoken Word Competition Hannah Dorey.

The South Island Ride also wraps up on White Ribbon Day after meeting Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, who has a special interest in family violence prevention on Saturday.

For interviews Nancy Blackler | 0272 425 318 |

Notes and Assets:

New Zealand has the highest level of reported violence towards women in the developed world.
– 41% of a frontline police officers’ time is spent responding to family violence.
– One in three women experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime.

Research commissioned by White Ribbon this year found that:
– 47% of men surveyed had been told as young men that ‘boys don’t cry’
– 65% had been told that ‘boys should harden or toughen up’
Conversely, only 9% of women were told that ‘girls don’t cry.’

There are healthy alternatives to suppressing emotions. Young men should feel encouraged to show emotions and to be able to talk about how they feel. As adults, we can help boys (and all children) to do this by giving them the language to discuss their feelings. As a starting point you can say, ‘I can see you are sad about …’ And we need to role model that behaviour as children learn from watching us.

  • For more information about White Ribbon, go to
  • Link to the #Unspoken Rules campaign HERE
  • Link to the research HERE
  • Link to graphics and videos HERE


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