Thanks to Aotea College for hosting YALP Workshop

250 participants from across the Lower North Island attended a workshop at Aotea College in Porirua on Friday as part of the White Ribbon Youth Ambassador Leadership Programme. Thirty schools sent senior high school students to take part from as far away as Whanganui, Palmerston North and the Wairarapa. It was fantastic to see the rapport developed between speakers and attendees throughout the day, which led to some really insightful and thought-provoking questions and discussion.

Talking about healthy masculinity, respectful relationships, consent and intimate partner violence is not easy and getting the information across in a way that students can relate to is a real skill so we know we are privileged to have an incredible group of speakers who took the time to share their stories and experiences.

White Ribbon Ambassadors Eteuati Ete (well-known for his years as part of the Laughing Samoans comedy duo) and Mele Wendt (MNZM) shared their story of the violence that occurred in the early years of their relationship. It takes courage to stand up and share difficult parts of your life with a large group of strangers and Ete and Mele have done so repeatedly to help people understand the drivers of violence and the work it takes to overcome it. The power of their story and the respect it engenders in those who hear it was particularly obvious on Friday with one of the students asking Ete for advice on how to control his anger. Bringing these issues out into the light is a vital part of our work and we are so grateful to Ete and Mele for their commitment to helping people break the cycle of violence.

Judge Boshier, Chief Ombudsman and White Ribbon Patron, shared his experiences dealing with violence on the bench as the Principal Family Court Judge highlighting for students the harmful patterns he observed and the need for men to learn how to express their emotions healthily and manage rejection.

White Ribbon Manager Rob McCann helped students to understand the prevalence of family harm and the many different forms of abuse that are occurring throughout our communities.

We are really lucky to have White Ribbon Trustee Richie Hardcore who immediately connects with young people using popular culture to explore attitudes to sex and consent and highlight the stereotypical one-dimensional images of men and women perpetuated in music videos, song lyrics and pornography. After an hour with Richie students are better able to step back and critically assess the messages that bombard them daily in social media and pop culture. At the end of the day school groups were invited to think about how they could spread the kaupapa and improve things in their communities and one group mentioned talking to their school about the sex education being provided as one of the actions they could take, which was clearly as result of Richie’s session.

It was great to have two student leaders Rachel Zhou and Angie del Favero speak about the organization they founded when they were 14 years old ‘Find your Fire’ and the process they went through producing a print magazine on the issue of family harm that they distributed to every secondary school in New Zealand. Their practical suggestions about how to take an idea, develop it and find the support required to make it a reality will be invaluable to the Youth Ambassadors as they take what they learnt back to their schools and work to get those messages out into their school and wider community.

White Ribbon Ambassador David Cournane is Acting Assistant Principal – Pastoral at Aotea College and has been an essential part of the team working to develop and refine the programme to ensure students have a positive experience and gain the skills required to be effective leaders in their communities.

If you’d like to discuss the possibility of running a Youth Ambassador Leadership Programme in your region please get in touch.

The next YALP is scheduled for the 24th September and will be held at Christ’s College in Chirstchurch. For details please contact White Ribbon or

Comments are closed.