Breaking silence and records: Conquering New Zealand for domestic violence survivors

50 ultra marathons in 50 days – that’s what one woman is about to embark on to open the dialogue and change the story around domestic violence.

On January 18th, Finnish researcher Emilia Lahti will begin a 2,400-kilometer ultra-run from Bluff all the way to Cape Reinga, to highlight the strength of individuals who’ve experienced emotional, physical or sexual hurt. Her run, if completed, will break a world record for the most consecutive ultra-runs run by a woman.

Along her route, Lahti will be stopping off in 15 Kiwi towns to open the conversation and encourage story sharing about this all too common reality.

Domestic violence is one of the most pervasive yet under-recognised human rights issues in the world, affecting hundreds of millions of individuals across the globe each year from every social class, income group, race and culture.

It is common knowledge that New Zealand has the worst rate of domestic violence in the world – a shocking statistic that was one part of the reason Lahti chose New Zealand to undergo this epic challenge.Sisu Not Silence

As an overcomer of domestic violence herself, Lahti found it hard to understand why people held other survival stories in such high esteem, but not those that have survived violence at the hands of an intimate partner.

“It frustrated me that the narrative was why did you stay? Rather than why did someone do this to you?” she explains.

“I wondered why there was no space for a mature, open conversation around interpersonal violence and why overcomers felt such shame – it just shouldn’t be the case.”

In the aftermath of her own trauma, Lahti quit her job and embarked on a PhD in applied psychology at the Aalto University in Helsinki, centering on the concept of ‘Sisu’. Sisu is an ancient Finish construct denoting courage and determination in the face of adversity.

It was then that she founded the global project and not-for-profit Sisu Not Silence which aims to generate a global-scale cultural shift that removes the stigma and shame imposed on individuals who have experienced interpersonal violence and hurt.

“Much like running a thousand miles, healing from past trauma and impacting social change are also trials of endurance that begin by taking one step at a time,” says Lahti.

“Choosing sisu over silence is about creating a world where communities hold compassion and justice in high value and take collective responsibility to build futures that allow people everywhere live free from fear – including the place that should be the heart of all safety: our homes. The issue of violence is global, but when we join our hands and hearts, we can make a change,” says Lahti.

Sisu Not Silence is looking to serve and work with communities. Nonprofits and organisations working in nonviolence and social impact are encouraged to connect with Lahti and her team to inquire about an event.

The schedule:
Queenstown – 21st Jan
Wanaka – 23rd Jan
Hokitika – 31st Jan
Westport – 3rd Feb
Nelson – 7th Feb
Palmerston North/Massey Uni – 11th Feb
Whanganui – 13th Feb
Taupo – 17th Feb
Hamilton – 21st Feb
Kaitaia – 26th Feb
Whangarei – 2nd March
Auckland – 10th March

For more information and media enquiries:
Amanda Vaisigano
027 375 5542
Social media hashtags: #sisunotsilence #overcomers
Facebook Global:
Blogs: and

Video 1 – Sisu not Silence Ultra Run:
Video 2 – Upworthy:
Video 3Mini documentary:

Police Commissioners White Ribbon Breakfast 2017

The Police Commissioner, and White Ribbon Ambassador Mike Bush, hosted the annual NZ Police White Ribbon Breakfast at Police National Headquarters, Wellington on the 24th November.  The senior police executive, guests, and heads of other agencies attended, with about 50 people in place for the 7am start.

Mike Bush spoke very clearly on his own personal commitment to White Ribbon and detailed a number of police activities.  He spoke of the Accreditation programme and referred to NZDF and Billy Graham Youth Foundation – both of whom were present.  He made the point that business houses, and especially government agencies, had to ensure that they had safe work conditions for their staff, and sound and well balanced policies.

He closed by showing a short video song by Tina Cross where NZ Police had joined with It’s Not OK and Tina, to produce a powerful non violence song.



Police Minister Stuart Nash spoke and affirmed the governments commitment to reducing family harm in all it’s forms.  He was especially focused on the prevention of crime and reducing the number of people in prison.  His very well delivered address was a positive affirmation of the government commitment to reducing family violence.

Leslie Elliot spoke passionately of the Loves Me Not campaign and emphasised that this was now operating in over 100 secondary schools.  She also spoke of her commitment to White Ribbon as a key part of her message to teenagers, and especially teenage women. The Commissioner thanked Lesley for her commitment and passion.

A family violence survivor and now an advocate, Toni Katu, brought the discussions to a close with a heart rending story of her own survival from family harm, in a powerful and passionate address, which really struck home.

The White Ribbon messages were clearly displayed throughout and the Commissioner referred to the on going work – “365 days a year by White Ribbon and not just on this one day.”





Rob McCann – Campaign Manager on the 2017 campaign and Sky TV

Anti-domestic violence campaign White Ribbon has labelled Sky TV “tone deaf” for hiring Tony Veitch only days ahead of a national awareness day.

Campaign manager Rob McCann told The AM Show Veitch, who was convicted of injuring his former girlfriend Kristin Dunne with reckless disregard in 2009, wouldn’t have faced backlash if he showed remorse.

To watch the video, click on the image.

Mark Longley – My advice to Tony Veitch

OPINION: Tony Veitch, back in the spotlight again – not for what he would have hoped for, but because of what he did to Kristin Dunne.

The sports commentator, stupidly in my opinion, let it be known he is returning to TV on a Sky Sports show. You would have thought Sky has enough troubles without employing Veitch, who brings with him an avalanche of social media abuse every time he makes announcements like these. It looks like Sky has now come to its senses with the announcement it is “working on a new line-up”.

Veitch, in his own words, has suffered since that night some 11 years ago when he kicked his partner Kristin Dunne so hard in the back it fractured. That is no mean feat, the force needed to crack a bone is substantial and not done easily.

Veitch, who publicly said his actions shamed his family, must be wondering if New Zealand will ever move on from the horrific abuse he subjected Kristin to and let him get on with his career.

Well we will Tony, and that time is when you stand up and take responsibility for what you did to Kristin. Apologise to her for the damage you caused both her and her family’s life. I know Kristin, not well, but our paths have crossed and she is a remarkable woman who has moved on from this. It’s you who seems unable to progress through it.

What you did, according to her statement to police, was kick in her in the back so hard you fractured it. Then you denied responsibility, allegedly claiming she fell down the stairs. You then paid her off to keep quiet and, although your career was hit, you basically got away with it.

A couple of years ago, when the Herald ran a series about domestic violence called We’re Better Than This, you issued a clumsy apology for what you did, which again set off an avalanche of abuse on social media.

The problem was it was an apology, just not to Kristin and her family, but to your family and the people in your life who had been affected.

You opened the statement by saying you were a man you could not control. You made a huge mistake, a grave misjudgement and you were truly sorry.

Here is the issue Tony, and let me preface this by why I have some opinion on the matter. Six years ago the partner of my daughter Emily Longley went one step further than you and murdered her.

He was in a rage and told the trial when he was convicted, she had driven him to it. She had made him angry and he had reacted. That he too had made a grave error of judgement.

His name is Elliot Turner and even his mother Anita, in the stand, blamed my daughter for what had happened. Her murder came after a short, but sustained period of verbal, then violent abuse for which Turner never once accepted responsibility. It was, according to him, all Emily’s fault.

I am sure Elliot Turner, as he lies in a cell contemplating what happened to him, still believes he has been hard done by and that Emily was to blame. I am not holding out much hope for an apology.

One of the most common reasons a violent partner or parent gives is “they made me do it.” “If she hadn’t of made me so angry I wouldn’t have lost my temper.”

The blame is put fairly and squarely on the shoulders of the victim, the woman, who is by now probably beaten into submission and believes it is her fault.

This is an attitude in New Zealand – with our appalling family violence statistics – that needs to change. Losing your temper and being violent is a choice, not an excuse.

It is not an excuse to hit a woman, child or anyone. Neither is being stressed or overworked as you alluded to.

Don’t blame circumstances and don’t paint the assault as a one-off event, own up to the fact you, like many men in New Zealand, had a problem.

That is what is needed Tony, a full and frank confession and evidence you are truly sorry for what you did to Kristin and her family.

I am involved with an organisation called White Ribbon now and part of our message is to get men to take accountability for their actions, get help and change their behaviour. Part of that process is owning up to the fact they have a problem and seeking redemption from those they have been violent to. I am going to repeat that point because it is important, it is about owning up to the fact they have a problem, not the woman, not the child, but the man.

You want redemption, you want to be able to rebuild your career and you want people to move on, well then atone for what you did.

As a father who lost a daughter to violence, what you did to Kristin is horrifying, but even more so I condemn you for not taking the opportunity to set an example to all violent men. Own up to what you really did and ask for the forgiveness of Kristin and her family, not the people of New Zealand.

Mark Longley is the managing editor of Newshub digital and a trustee of White Ribbon. 

Something for everyone in this year’s White Ribbon Day celebrations

There is literally something for everyone in this year’s White Ribbon Day celebrations.

From the main centres to the small towns, organisations throughout the country have arranged fantastic events to highlight the issue of violence against women and focus attention on the importance of talking to our children about respectful relationships and issues of consent.

In Auckland you can start the day at the White Ribbon March (We Stand Because We Care) from Lower Queen Street to Meyers Park. White Ribbon has withdrawn our support for the event and you can read why here). There will still be many supporters of the kaupapa present.

Or if you prefer to hunt for a bargain, try the Counties Manukau White Ribbon Day Flea Market event in the Mangere Town Square from 9am to 12:30pm. There will be entertainment, agencies information stalls, spot prizes and another group of White Ribbon Riders. It is sure to be an informative and fun filled day for the family.

Then head along to Sirens and Sounds Safety and Careers Festival in Eastdale Reserve in Avondale from 11am to 4pm, where emergency services have organised a community day, which supports White Ribbon.

Or if you are in Rodney, come along to the Orewa Santa Parade with partner agency Abuse Prevention Services from 2-3pm.

In Glen Eden from 5pm, join Raukura Aio “Building Respectful Relationships” at Hoani Waititi Marae for their annual open “mic” event with motivational speakers, entertainment, panel discussion and light refreshments.

In Hamilton, check out the Touch Competition at Fairfield Park from 9am – 3pm. The White Ribbon campaign will combine with one of New Zealand’s most popular community sports at this family friendly event. The touch tournament will include speakers and music between matches, with 12 teams competing.

Further south Porirua takes the lead organising a host of White Ribbon events for their community starting with Zonta Says NO” – White Ribbon Promotion by Zonta Club of Mana at Marina Espresso from 10 am to noon.

The White Ribbon Ride is one of the most exciting initiatives tackling this country’s crippling domestic violence record. This week-long motorcycle tour happens every November as the riders spread the anti-violence message to school and community groups throughout New Zealand. The Billy Graham Youth Foundation is hosting a visit from the White Ribbon Riders at their Cannons Creek Boxing Academy. The Foundation has recently undertaken the new White Ribbon Workplace Accreditation programme.

In Christchurch, head along to the Countdown on Church Corner opposite Bush Inn Mall where Amnesty International are operating a supermarket stall distributing white ribbons and collecting donations for Aviva (Christchurch’s family violence prevention service).

Later in the day join the White Ribbon Riders as they share their stories and talk about the White Ribbon kaupapa at the Phillipstown Community Gala from noon to 3pm.

The smaller centres are also well served with White Ribbon events. Throughout the Waikato you can purchase bunches of White Roses to show your support for White Ribbon with florists contributing on a much-needed donation to Women’s Refuge.

If you enjoy a more active event, try the White Ribbon Around the Mountain Ride in Waitara, If you would like to be part of the ride, head down to Waitara Tavern for a 10:30am start. The entry fee is $5 which covers the cost of receiving a White Ribbon.

In Kaikoura head down to the Treasure Hunt – Our Amazing Place. This amazing race-style community treasure hunt has been organised by Te Hao Matauranga Learning to raise funds for White Ribbon Day. It starts 9:30am at the Village Green.

For more information on these events and the many others in towns and cities near you please visit

At 10:40pm on Maori Television the White Ribbon film Raise Our Men will be shown without advertising and it will be rescreened again on the 27th at 8.30 pm. The film will also be available online for free

You can also take the pledge online and commit to standing up, speaking out and acting to prevent violence against women.

Throughout the year make use of the White Ribbon Toolboxes that provide practical resources to help diminish and hopefully one day end the violence in our society. If fathers and other significant figures in boys’ lives commit to talking to them about respectful relationships and issues of consent we will be able to counter negative messaging they receive from other sources and give them the guidance they need to have happy and fulfilling relationships based on mutual respect.

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Preparation for the White Ribbon Ride 2017

Preparations for the ride start well before November each year. The Campaign Team work with the Ride Leaders to organise draft itineraries and then months of effort goes into finalising the schedule and working with communities to get everything in order. That includes 6 months networking with agencies, Marae, Iwi and riders groups to organise the 2017 route, events and accommodation.

Te Ahi Kikoha, the riders who lead the Lower North Island Ride hosted a meeting in Wellington in May for all White Ribbon Riders that wished to participate in that ride. The Hui covered the history of the White Ribbon Ride, the Kaupapa of Te Ahi Kikoha and a debrief of the 2016 ride and messaging, as well as a reports on events that the riders had attended since November 2016. This meeting was well attended and the Ride Leader Takurua and his wife Cathy flew up from Dunedin at their own cost.

Since this meeting, riders have organised  hui to ensure cultural responsibility (Tikanga) when engaging with Maori communities and learn the appropiate Waiata, reinforcing the messaging and supporting those new to the kaupapa. Theses hui have been held every 6 weeks  in different areas across New Zealand.

The riders have also attended several events, fund raisers for Woman’s Refuge, Youth Events, School Events, RATS events and just a few weeks ago took some elderly folks for a ride.

In the final weeks before the ride, the riders ensure they are ready to deliver the key messages and importantly, all the bikes are readied for the trip.

White Ribbon is incredibly lucky to have these dedicated men. Many take unpaid leave to participate and the cost per person is significant. The campaign only contributes $5,000 per ride (there are three rides) and those funds are primarily spent on accommodation and if funds are left over, a small amount of food is provided. It’s a huge undertaking involving hundreds of people who all have the same goal, to end men’s violence towards women and we would like to thank the riders for donating their time, energies and bikes to promote the White Ribbon Kaupapa. They visit over 80 communities over the week long ride and leave lasting impression on many.

Click here for the 2017 schedule.