White Ribbon AUSTRALIA has gone into liquidation. 

“We really feel for our friends in Australia and hope there is some light at the end of this tunnel,” says Rob McCann White Ribbon NZ Manager.

“Because we share a name,  we need to ensure people understand White Ribbon NZ is a separate charity. We have a staffing level of approximately 1.5 people, no offices as we work from home, and we expand our workforce with contractors from time to time when we have campaigns or funding. For the most part White Ribbon New Zealand runs with the support of thousands of volunteers, and that includes our unpaid board members, White Ribbon Ambassadors and White Ribbon Riders.”

“We are always short of funds and rely on government and, in recent years on the amazing support from ACC, for the funds required to run primary prevention campaigns.

“Our programmes such as the Youth Ambassador Leadership Programme and Workplace Accreditation would not be possible without the support of the many organisations across NZ that help raise funds and awareness, to assist us in preventing men’s violence towards women.”

“White Ribbon New Zealand looks forward to announcing our annual November Campaign in the near future,” say Mr McCann.


News Item from Australia


Upper Hutt City Council Becomes a White Ribbon Accredited Business

Upper Hutt City Council is one of the first councils nationwide to be White Ribbon Accredited, alongside Carterton District Council and Napier City Council.

The councils were accredited by the White Ribbon Trust at a board meeting in early September. Council’s director of Community Services, Mike Ryan, applied for accreditation on 10 April 2019 which required Council to demonstrate the ability to support the White Ribbon kaupapa, enact policies, train staff, and put in place proactive violence prevention.

“Upper Hutt City Council is committed to being an employer that supports staff that are in domestic violence situations or are perpetrators of domestic violence as well as promoting awareness amongst staff of domestic violence within the workplace and community,” says Mr Ryan. “As a territorial authority, we have a duty of care to the members of our Community. We’re leading by example and encouraging other organisations to get on board.”

The importance of championing for a domestic violence-free community is highlighted by police call outs to incidents and disturbances within the wider community.

“Upper Hutt City Council has long been a supporter of initiatives that aim to reduce domestic violence,” says Council’s Chief Executive, Peter Kelly. “Achieving White Ribbon Accreditation is another step in that journey. We’re thankful of the opportunity to partner with and support White Ribbon in the reduction of violence towards women throughout our communities.”

In addition to Council’s accreditation, Community Development Team Leader, Sue Colville has now achieved White Ribbon Ambassador status. Sue’s role at Upper Hutt City Council gives her the opportunity to influence and support the White Ribbon kaupapa by engaging and connecting with Council staff and the Upper Hutt community, promoting key messages about respectful relationships and working to highlight the issue of family violence in our local community.

The Council is continuing to develop initiatives and support community efforts aimed at reducing domestic violence. These include White Ribbon Day activities in November and events throughout the year. These will be publicised in the coming months.

White Ribbon creates positive change through youth poetry competition

1st place Hannah Dorey from St Mary’s College

White Ribbon held their first ever spoken word competition last night at Wellington College with the finalists performing in front of a stellar lineup of celebrity judges.

The event was hosted by talented Samoan comedian Eteuati Ete, of The Laughing Samoans, and featured a judging panel including: Justice – Parliamentary Under-Secretary Jan Logie, award-winning Poet Chris Tse, Kirsten Johnstone Host of Radio New Zealand’s Song Crush, and Cori Gonzalez-Macuer from What We Do in the Shadows and 7 Days.

Ete said the event was a wonderful way for young people to truly understand the importance of equal and respectful relationships as they’re starting to form relationships themselves. “I only wish we had these types of open discussions when I was at school. It would have assisted me in being a better husband and father from the beginning.”

The competition was open to high-school students and challenged the students to create a spoken word piece on the theme of ‘Respectful Relationships’.

The judges had a hard decision with all the finalists producing compelling work. Taking out first place was Hannah Dorey from St Mary’s College, whose poem focuses on building up the strength to ‘respectfully decline’ an unhealthy relationship.

Second place Charlotte Lawrence from St Oran’s Lower Hutt with Under Secretary Jan Logie

Second place went to Charlotte Lawrence from St Oran’s Lower Hutt and third Avni Labhsetwar, Newlands College.

Hannah believes it is important to show people that they can have the strength to walk away from an unhealthy relationship.

“Poetry has been used as a healing tool for many centuries and is making a comeback.” says White Ribbon Manager Rob McCann. “Finding the words to articulate a traumatic experience can bring relief. We created this opportunity to give young people a voice where their thoughts on family harm and violence against women could be heard. We are incredibly proud of all the students entries which had very inspiring takes on ending (men’s) violence in New Zealand.”

“We are grateful to our generous sponsors who made this event possible. We look forward to building on this experience and creating more opportunities like this for students throughout New Zealand”

White Ribbon is an anti-violence campaign that calls for men to stand up, speak out, and act to prevent violence against women. Family violence accounts for half of all reported serious crime in New Zealand, with one family violence-related police call-out occurring every five minutes. This year the November campaign will be focused on our youth.

Third place Avni Labhsetwar, Newlands College

For any media inquiries or interviews please contact:

The finalists are being filmed in a studio and their spoken words will be used as part of the November Campaign.

You can see their videos here.

Rob McCann
Manager White Ribbon

Flashmob Fundraiser – Wuthering Heights in Napier

White Ribbon recently received an extremely generous donation from a really innovative fundraising event organised by Howard and Gannon Funerals in Napier. We wanted to know more about how they came up with this fantastic idea and get some advice to pass on to other groups interested in running fundraising events that not only benefit charities but are also fun for participants so we asked them a few questions and they have kindly agreed to pass on their wisdom.

How did you come up with the idea for this event?

I saw The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever on YouTube and thought it was a crazy but great idea. I liked that it was all about having fun and participating, it’s not just for dancers but for all abilities, good…bad and otherwise. Kate Bush’s song is iconic and has an association for many generations of people world-wide. Also I thought that it was a unique idea for raising money for a designated charity, and a flashmob type event is on the bucket list of a lot of people!

Why did you choose to support White Ribbon? 

Myself and my work colleagues have followed White Ribbon through the media and we support what they promote – respectful relationships. We had to choose a charity to support, and it is all about reducing violence in our society, which is something we really believe in.

Who was involved in the planning?

This truly was a team effort by all the staff at Howard & Gannon Funerals and our families.

How many people took part?

Around 70 performed the dance.

Where and when did it take place?

We performed the dance in two locations in the Napier CBD, The Sound Shell on Napier’s Marine Parade, and also the main street.

How did you publicise it?

Mainly through Facebook (as an event). Also locally through radio – live interviews were very effective and the stations added our event to their social media pages. We also advertised it in community newspapers and distributed posters.

You raised an impressive sum of money (thank you again), how did you go about collecting the money?

We organised a bucket collection at the locations where we danced.

Do you have any advice for anyone organizing a similar event?

Use other people’s databases to get your event publicised i.e. like the radio stations and social media news forums. Next year we will target schools, and dance studios. We will also challenge businesses to use our event as a team building/social event for their staff.

Is there anything else you would like to tell us?

I contacted the local council (Napier City Council) to let them know what we were

planning and to make sure we weren’t breaking any bi-laws or rules. They booked out the locations we used and also added our event to their online page at no charge.

Next time we think it would be a good idea to give people the chance to support the event and charity by posting the WR bank account details on our media releases so they could donate direct. We found that some people wanted to donate money and support the event but couldn’t actually attend the event.

We want to thank Ross, Julie and all the team at Howard and Gannon Funerals for their support. It is fantastic to have your support to spread the White Ribbon kaupapa and help to prevent men’s violence against women.

Youth Ambassador Leadership Programme

After months of planning, on Friday the 2nd of August our reinvigorated Youth Ambassador Leadership Programme launched in Wellington with 235 students from 30 secondary schools around the Lower North Island gathering at Wellington College for a full-day workshop.

These Year 12 and 13 students then returned to their schools as Youth Ambassadors. The workshop provided the Youth Ambassadors with an understanding of what domestic violence looks like in New Zealand and outlined the various forms of violence to ensure they realise it is not simply about physical abuse.

The importance of respectful relationships was highlighted and they learnt how to identify an unhealthy relationship.

Two presentations really stood out because they were lived experiences. Mark Longely spoke about his daughter Emily Longley’s death, and how that could have been prevented and the warning signs. Mele and Ete spoke about their marriage and the violence they both experienced (in Ete’s youth) and during their marriage. These presentations while confronting were inspirational, and each speaker throughout the day covered a range of key points that were carefully planned to provide a framework for students to then take action.

Students brainstorming at YALP Mayor Mike Tana addressing the students at YALP Eteuati Ete, formerly of the Laughing Samoans speaking

At the workshop they heard:

  • Mark Longleys retelling of his daughters death to encourage others to act

    the importance of this work and becoming a leader from Chief Ombudsman and Patron of White Ribbon Judge Peter Boshier

  • about what domestic violence is from the White Ribbon Campaign Manager Rob McCann
  • Local Mayors Justin Lester, Mike Tana and Ray Wallace talked about leadership
  • the tragic result when no-one intervenes to prevent violence from White Ribbon Ambassador Mark Longley
  • causes of violence such as socialisation, the man box and that change is possible and how it can be achieved and from Ambassadors Eteuati Ete and Mele Wendt
  • how best to respond to violence they witness from Police
  • how an initiative like the White Ribbon Ride can promote the kaupapa from White Ribbon Rider Rick Hepi
  • and how to make an event happen from Ambassador Ron Vink

Our aim is to empower these future leaders by giving them the tools to promote change. They have lots of fantastic ideas that they want to make a reality. Each school is being assigned an adult from the White Ribbon team to support them as they spread the kaupapa within their schools and communities.

Please write to us at contact@whiteribbon.org.nz if you are interested in bringing YALP to your school or community.

White Ribbon Ambassador Mele Wendt sharing her story with students White Ribbon Riders Rick Hepi, Mark Shepherd and Eric Campbell White Ribbon Patron Judge Boshier spoke about his experiences

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Q & A with White Ribbon Ambassador David Cournane

Today we would like to introduce one of our White Ribbon Ambassadors, David Cournane. David is the HoD of Physical Education and Health at Wellington College. David has been the driver in introducing the White Ribbon Youth Ambassador Leadership Programme (YALP) into the Wellington region this year and is the local co-ordinator for the Programme. We are extremely grateful for the time and effort he has put into this important initiative. As he is an educator working with young men we wanted to ask him a few questions about why he chose to become involved, what he sees as the challenges for young people and how we can assist them to overcome them and make real change in New Zealand attitudes to violence in the future.

Can you tell me a little about your background?

I grew up in the deep south in a little place called Te Anau in a loving family environment.  I studied in Dunedin where I was first exposed to some degree of toxic relationships between men and women. I qualified as a teacher in 2001 and have been working in boys’ education since 2003 at St Pats Silverstream and Wellington College.  My wife is the Black Ferns manager, and I have two young sons (9 and 6).

When did you first learn about White Ribbon?

I have known of White Ribbon for a number of years, but became more entrenched in the philosophy of the organisation after attending a White Ribbon event in Petone at the end of 2017 where Michael Kauffman, one of the Canadian founders of White Ribbon, gave a workshop and facilitated discussion.

Why did you decide to become an Ambassador?

In my role as an educator of young men, both as a middle leader and school wide leader in boys’ schools, I recognised the potential power I have to positively influence the values and actions of graduates of my school.  We have some amazing kids in our schools, but we also have a lingering tolerance for unacceptable attitudes towards women, and if I can in anyway positively influence this situation then I feel obliged to do so.

How do you find students respond to the White Ribbon kaupapa?

When the time is taken to take them through the White Ribbon material, and engage them with the kaupapa, students respond very positively.  They know and understand the key learnings around what makes a relationship healthy- for many they are just in a position where other influences in their lives (parental attitudes, media, peer group, etc) directly contradict the messages we are trying to give.

Why did you decide to take on leadership of the Youth Ambassador Leadership Programme (YALP) in Wellington?

I was looking for opportunities to impact upon the attitudes and beliefs of as many young people as possible.  Because of the timing of the White Ribbon campaign in November, when senior students have left, and the traditional insular practices of schools, my capacity to influence within my own school was relatively limited.  The YALP allows for as many schools as possible to develop their student leaders with the capabilities required to make a difference within their own schools across the wider region, at a time when all cohorts are still at school.  I absolutely believe that all schools want the best for their students in terms of holistic education, and all schools want to collaborate with others to achieve this.  The birth of this programme gives them that opportunity.

What challenges do you think young men are facing now that didn’t exist in your day? And how do you think we should react to these?

As alluded to above, young people are faced with much more information, opinions and diverse values than any generation before them.  I attended a conference on youth well-being a couple of years ago that talked about young people receiving the amount of ‘information/ideas’ we received in a year, in a week.  This bombardment of new ideas makes it incredibly difficult to filter out the valuable from the dangerous.  Related to this is the online accessibility of not only hardcore pornography, but also other warped views and values towards relationships accessed through dating apps, reality tv, etc.

Students sharing their ideas at the YALP

To respond to this, we need to be developing critical minds – young people capable of more effectively sifting through this bombardment of information, and engaging only with that which builds themselves and others around them up.

What are the things that make you worried?

The difficulty of trying to shape hearts and minds, when the more powerful influences of previous generations in their family, and the media they engage with, can be working at complete cross purposes.  I also worry that quality young men become labelled as something they are not.

Finally, I worry that aspects of our society seem more reluctant than ever to stand up and say something when negative things are happening (the bystander effect).

What are the things that make you hopeful?

Momentum for change is a wonderful thing, and when we get people in positions of power who have the skills to generate this momentum then great things can happen as we can see nationally with Prime Minister Jacinda Adern, and within our school community in the leadership of Principal Gregor Fountain.

I interact with some wonderful young people on a daily basis, and if they can find the strength to influence the worlds they exist within beyond school then the impact will be great.

Ambassadors, like David, are vital to spreading the White Ribbon kaupapa and getting projects like the Youth Ambassador Leadership Programme and Business Accreditation into local communities around New Zealand. If you would like to become an Ambassador or would like to nominate someone else to take on this valuable role please complete the nomination form here or write to us at contact@whiteribbon.org.nz

To check out the Youth Ambassador Leadership Programme (YALP) click here

New Zealander of the Year nominee – David White

White Ribbon Ambassador David White has recently been announced as a nominee for the 2020 New Zealander of the Year Awards. We couldn’t be more thrilled that David’s tireless work to prevent violence is being celebrated. He is a thoroughly deserving candidate for this prestigious award.

Eleven years ago David’s daughter Helen Meads was shot dead by her millionaire racehorse breeder husband Greg Meads. To ensure tragic stories like his daughter’s aren’t repeated David has spent the last seven years sharing his experience with people all over New Zealand. His commitment to changing New Zealand society for the better in the face of immense personal loss is inspiring. This year David embarked on his Harm Ends Futures Begin tour visiting each of the 71 electorates, making 120 presentations from February until the end of May.

David White on Good Morning in 2014

His work has helped to bring domestic violence out of the shadows where it has thrived for far too long. Recently David has stepped back from some of his work on  government committees and working groups in an attempt at retirement but he is still committed to changing the culture around men’s violence towards women and he continues to work with Police and Corrections to that end.

We are extremely grateful for David’s advocacy for White Ribbon and his powerful delivery of the kaupapa wherever he goes. He has travelled New Zealand on the White Ribbon Ride connecting with people in small communities and sharing his story. We regularly get requests for him to speak at community events and he always makes it a priority. In addition to all the time he has put into connecting with individuals and advising on committees David has also written two books Helen: the Helen Meads tragedy in 2012 and Family Violence: Lifting New Zealand’s Dark Cloud in 2016.

Since their inception in 2010 these awards have celebrated some remarkable New Zealanders. The 2019 New Zealander of the year Mike King has used the platform to focus national attention on the impact of mental health issues, particularly among Maori and young people. We think David would be the perfect successor to Mike King as he has demonstrated the same passion to foster vital change in our society and eliminate men’s violence towards women.


White Ribbon selected as Charity Partner for the 2019 HighLight: Carnival of Lights

We are so grateful to have been chosen as the charity partner for this year’s HighLight: Carnival of Lights. Brought to you by Hutt City Council, the carnival is held during Labour weekend each year (25 – 28 October 2019).

Lower Hutt’s Riddiford Garden will be transformed into a spectacular carnival of light for all ages. Get lost across space and time, through magical forests and maybe even fall in love. The carnival features live entertainment, brilliant light installations, fireworks, interactive activities and more, all free.

Hutt City Council and White Ribbon are currently calling for volunteers to support this important community event. Volunteers provide information and maps to visitors, oversee installations and activities, assist performers, and collect donations. Past volunteers have had a fantastic time helping at HighLight. As a thank you for giving up your time to assist there are some great prizes up for grabs. Each night there will be volunteer spot prizes drawn including movie tickets, Everyone’s Adventures vouchers, food, beverage, accommodation prizes and more.

To register to volunteer during highlight please follow this link and please write White Ribbon in the comment section.

School Visits from White Ribbon Riders

Since 2009 the White Ribbon Ride has visited communities throughout New Zealand to spread the message that violence against women is unacceptable. The riders look tough and their motorbikes draw in a crowd, but it is their message that has the greatest impact. The Ride traditionally takes place in November to coincide with White Ribbon Day and associated events. The one downside to that timing is that senior students have usually already left school at that time, and as a result miss the opportunity to hear from the Riders. In response to this issue the Hauraki Ride is looking at moving their Ride to March 2020 to trial and see if alternating the time of the rides is effective in engaging more youth.

Another way to facilitate Riders connecting with senior students is the opportunity to have a group of Riders visit your school during the year to present on these issues. We have a number of enthusiastic Riders who are keen to connect with local schools during the year and develop a more meaningful and long-lasting relationship with the students and school. The fact that some of the Riders have experience as victims and former perpetrators of domestic violence gives them and their message more credibility with students.

In October last year experienced White Ribbon Rider Rick Hepi organized a visit to an alternative education provider Te Ata Kura, which is managed by Neville Heihei. The group of five Riders who attended did some ice-breakers and games to build rapport with the students, then broke into groups to work as teams to engage in problem-solving. They finished with a push up competition between Riders, teachers, and students. The Riders were at the Kura for 2-3 hours and really enjoyed the opportunity to spend more time getting to know the students. Both the Riders and the school are very keen to repeat the experience.

In a letter about the visit Neville Heihei commented: “The White Ribbon riders visit to the school was a great success for our students. They were able to openly disclose personal information about their upbringing regarding violence and what they have learnt from that. The opportunity for students to be able to articulate their feelings and emotions in a safe space with the riders, class mates and staff was amazing. It seemed that everyone came away with a learning for the day. This speaks of the power of the White Ribbon kaupapa.”

We have also recently developed a powerpoint presentation that Riders will be able to give in schools if you would prefer a more formal presentation to a large group rather than the interactive engagement that was possible with the relatively small number of students at Te Ata Kura. There are plenty of options available and we are keen to work with you to create a meaningful opportunity for students to engage with the Riders, who are all volunteers and relate extremely well to young people. Their honesty about their own experiences creates a real connection with the people they encounter.

If you think a visit from some of our Riders would be of value to your students please contact us at contact@whiteribbon.org.nz and we will help connect you to Riders in your region.

If you are keen to join the 2019 Ride in the South Island or Lower North Island please download your registration of interest form here.


Welcome for new White Ribbon Ambassador – Mayor Justin Lester

Chief Ombudsman and Patron of White Ribbon Judge Peter Boshier presenting Mayor Lester with his White Ribbon.

White Ribbon is delighted to welcome Wellington Mayor Justin Lester to the White Ribbon team. He is passionate about the White Ribbon kaupapa and supporting change in our communities.

The event to welcome Mayor Lester was organised by fellow Ambassador Inspector Rakesh Naidoo of the Police and hosted at Police National Headquarters in Wellington by Police Commissioner (and White Ribbon Ambassador) Mike Bush. Mayor Lester was nominated by the National Council of Women.

Members of the National Council of Women and Multicultural New Zealand who nominated Mayor Lester with the Mayor and Judge Boshier

The event also celebrated the Phoenix Diversity and Inclusion Programme, which provides season passes and bus transportation for migrants, refugees and low income families to attend Phoenix games free of charge. In addition to being White Ribbon Ambassadors, the Mayors in the wider Wellington region are also vital supporters of this fantastic initiative, which highlights the important role sport can play in creating social cohesion.

Honoured guests at the Welcome


The fact that all four Mayors in the Wellington region (Mayors Justin Lester,  Mike Tana, Ray Wallace and Wayne Guppy) have become White Ribbon Ambassadors has provided significant support for key projects like the Youth Ambassador Leadership Programme to be rolled out in the region. The Mayors recently presented at the Youth Ambassador workshop on leadership empowering the next generation of leaders. We are extremely grateful for their support and willingness to use their platform to speak out against violence.

White Ribbon Campaign Manager Rob McCann with Mayors Justin Lester and Mike Tana on either side

If you would like to nominate someone to help spread the kaupapa as a White Ribbon Ambassador please download the nomination form here.