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The White Ribbon campaign in New Zealand is a meld of the White Ribbon Day movement in Canada and the United Nations International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women, which is celebrated on 25 November each year.

The campaign has activities throughout the calendar year with an increased focus in November. White Ribbon is driven by a campaign team and community groups in towns and cities throughout New Zealand, while events and activities are increasingly supported by businesses, cultural groups, sporting teams, local government and a wide range of community and government agencies.

Our aim is to eliminate men’s violence towards women by encouraging men to take ownership of this important issue and model good behaviour that can change attitudes and behaviour. In 2018 our focus will be on ensuring men take the White Ribbon Pledge and become active in our mission to end men’s violence towards women.


The École Polytechnique Massacre, also known as the Montreal Massacre, occurred on December 6, 1989, at the École Polytechnique in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. 14 women were killed.


The first White Ribbon Campaign was launched by a group of men in Canada after the brutal mass shooting of 14 female students at the University of Montreal. In Canada the campaign runs from 25 November (the International Day for the Eradication of Violence Against Women) until December 6, Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. Other countries support 16 Days of Action from 25 November until 10 December but campaigns can occur at any time of the year.


The United Nations officially recognised 25 November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. White Ribbon becomes officially recognised as a symbol of hope for a world where women and girls can live free from the fear of violence. Wearing the ribbon challenges the acceptability of violence by getting men involved, helping women to break the silence, and encouraging everyone to come together to build a better world for all.


UNIFEM (United Nations Development Fund for Women) introduced White Ribbon Day to New Zealand. Volunteers made and distributed 15,000 ribbons via women’s organisations and human rights organisations.


The Families Commission embraced White Ribbon Day as part of its work to raise awareness of family violence and encourage social change. The Commission joined Women’s Refuge, National Network of Stopping Violence Services, Amnesty International, Human Rights Commission, YWCA, YMCA, Save the Children and Relationship Services in promoting the campaign. The Commission provided much of the funding and project management for the campaign. In 2006, 200,000 ribbons were distributed and double that in 2007.


The funding base expanded, with contributions from Ministry of Health, Police, ACC, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Social Development. In 2008, one in 10 New Zealanders wore a white ribbon with over 500,000 distributed around the country.


During 2009 the first White Ribbon Ambassador (Ruben Wiki) was appointed to provide leadership and use his public profile and support networks to spread the White Ribbon message.  Other key projects were introduced such as the White Ribbon Ride where tough looking men (Patriots made up of current and former members of the armed services) delivered messages of love and respect to some 40 communities. We also introduced Facebook and this website.


Awareness and participation in the White Ribbon campaign continued to grow. During 2010 over 510,000 white ribbons were distributed throughout New Zealand. A number of key events were held including a cross-party MP White Ribbon Breakfast in Parliament, a White Ribbon Breakers Game in Auckland as well as 144 known community activities throughout the country. The White Ribbon Ride rode through 40 North Island centres and connected with men and their communities to share stories and inspire change.


The campaign introduced the White Ribbon Ride to the South Island and now reaches over 80 communities on its trip throughout New Zealand. NZ Football came on board with White Ribbon the cause associated with the All Whites – and they even made their own poster. The ambassador project continued to grow reaching 40 ambassadors who now speak throughout the country inspiring communities. The Giant White Ribbon was introduced linking communities and their messages to end violence and the Newspaper Pledge saw full page adverts in The Press, The Dominion Post and the NZ Herald. The website was further updated and the White Ribbon Newsletter was introduced.


The year has seen continued growth with the introduction of the White Ribbon Cup by Football NZ while the campaign team have introduced merchandise, fundraising and sponsorship as the campaign moves towards full funding by 2015. We will also introduce new messaging; new campaign images and the new month long campaign will focus on non-physical violence.


The Families Commission announced that the campaign was to move out of the Commission and A White Ribbon Trust was set up with the aim of taking over the campaign. The 2013 programme continued and the campaign focused on getting men to take The Pledge to ‘never commit condone or remain silent’.


The Campaign moved out of the Families Commission (now known as the Social Policy Evaluation and Research Unit or Superu for short). The White Ribbon Committee now offers expert advice to the White Ribbon Campaign Trust which organises the campaign.


White Ribbon reached out to stakeholders to help shape a new November campaign with a series of workshops. The engagement brought many organisations into the White Ribbon family and the campaign settled on a theme of respectful relationships, of which consent was an element. ACC became the major funder of the campaign and brought with it a requirement to include sexual violence which became the work on consent. This is a challenging issue for many men including Ambassadors and Riders and considerable effort was made to train these two groups and ensure our events were safe and caused no harm. The campaign began a new relationship with Ocean Design and together with ACC, a new and exciting campaign was developed using focus groups as a tool for refining the messages.


The campaign continued to develop the new Respectful Relationships theme putting in place a number of new initiatives, a Hollie Smith song, videos, the significant expansion of the Toolbox, conducted research, implemented a new pledge and the introduction of a workplace accreditation scheme.


The campaign has continued to develop the Respectful Relationship theme picking up on the research from 2016 that found that dads were not comfortable talking to their sons about respectful relationships. 2017 focused on giving kiwi dads the skills and confidence to talk about respectful relationships with their sons providing further Toolboxes to support this work. We also created a White Ribbon Video ‘Raise Our Men‘ that focuses on male socialisation and held workshops around New Zealand with Michael Kaufman.


In 2018 we asked men to ‘stand up’ by taking the online pledge and committing to take one or more actions. The eight actions offer men choices – to listen, reflect, alter their behaviour, talk to others and disrupt negative behaviour – which build respectful behaviour that undermines violence. Men then received an email linking them with a White Ribbon toolbox and a video with useful information on how to proceed and achieve their goal.

White Ribbon asked men to commit to taking at least one of these eight actions. https://vimeo.com/showcase/5537622

  • Listening and believing women.
  • Reflecting on and changing their behaviour.
  • Disrupting other men’s violence towards women.
  • Treating women as equals.
  • Choose how to be a man and how I will act.
  • Talk to a young man about breaking out of the Man Box (more information below).
  • Think about what they watch and the media they use.
  • Talk with young men about respectful relationships and pornography.