E Tū Te Awakairangi White Ribbon Breakfast

Throughout November organisations across New Zealand created fantastic opportunities for communities to gather together and work to challenge attitudes and behaviours that support violence and instead encourage respectful relationships and healthy masculinity. Over the next few months we would like to focus on some of these amazing events.

E Tū Te Awakairangi, which includes White Ribbon Ambassador Hine Sullivan, City Safety Manager at Hutt City Council, organized a White Ribbon Breakfast at the Walter Nash Stadium in Lower Hutt on Friday 22 November attracting over 70 members of the local community.  There was a great mix of young and old in attendance and the three guest speakers spoke on various topics relating to the White Ribbon kaupapa and Family Harm.

White Ribbon Ambassador Mele Wendt shared her very personal and candid story about her husband Ete’s offending and their combined effort to address this. Their commitment to each other and their whanau has seen an amazing change in Ete. Ete is no longer violent, he is also a White Ribbon Ambassador and together they share their story, with the hope that it will change other people’s lives and stop Family Violence.

Deb Robinson, spoke about her experience working in Women’s Refuge, her passion for Social Justice, and her role as the Family Violence Coordinator for Ahuru Mowai o Te Awakairangi.

Charlotte Lawrence, Deputy Chair of Hutt City Council’s Youth Council, recipient of the 2019 Hutt City Youth Award for Service to the community and second prize winner at the White Ribbon Spoken Word competition, had the entire audience captivated.  Her original White Ribbon Spoken Word speech, which was modified to include Respectful Relationships and Challenge #UNSPOKEN Rules, was pitched perfectly for the entire audience.

A number of the school students who attended stated that her speech was amazing, and they related to what she was saying, especially in relation to the #Unspoken Rules. These students have heard the examples Charlotte referred to on a regular basis: “Only girls cry”, “Harden up!” “Don’t be a girl”, and they have either been victims or responsible for making these comments.  Charlotte’s speech has reminded them that this is not acceptable and they will challenge people who make comments such as these in the future.

The schools who attended and provided entertainment, Pomare School, Avalon Intermediate and Taita College were fantastic.  Despite some understandable nerves, they performed beautifully.  They chose a combination of songs to support the kaupapa, including Maori songs.

The other person who made this event a great success was the MC Cameron Kapua-Morell from Upper Hutt City Council.  His energy and obvious passion for the White Ribbon kaupapa, kept the audience engaged and he uplifted the students when they required support.  The way Cameron blended the guests, speakers and students provided a very well rounded, entertaining and successful event.

A number of community leaders were present, including Mayor Campbell Barry, who opened the event, Deputy Mayor Tui Lewis, Councillors, community group leaders and White Ribbon Ambassadors.

White Ribbon is extremely grateful to E Tù Te Awakairangi for organizing this fantastic event to spread the kaupapa and build greater community connections in their ongoing efforts to prevent violence. If you were involved in a great community event we would love to hear about it and profile it in future newsletters. Please write to us at contact@whiteribbon.org.nz to share your stories and photos.

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