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.

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 and he always makes it a priority. David wrote 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 effects and impacts of mental health issues, particularly among Maori and young people.

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. Hutt City Council’s HighLight event is held during Labour weekend (25 – 28 October 2019) each year. Riddiford Garden will be transformed into a spectacular carnival of light for all ages. You’ll journey below the waves, across land and sky, experience the power of the elements, meet creepy-crawly characters, and discover a mythical forest. The event 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.

 

Spoken Word Competition

White Ribbon are holding their first spoken word competition and it’s going to be a night of hot poetry, sizzling truths and fiery performances.

The theme of the night is ‘Respectful Relationships’ so get ready for some amazing rhymes and inspired takes on ending (men’s) violence in New Zealand.

The Spoken Word competition is being held on the evening of the 26th September at Wellington College, with some high profile judges including the Justice – Parliamentary Under-Secretary Jan Logie and some decent prizes (to be announced soon).

 

Rules:

  • Poems must be the original work of the performer/s. Plagiarised material will result in disqualification.
  • Performers must be students at a NZ secondary school (or equivalent) and 15 years or older
  • Poets can perform by themselves or with a team.
  • No accompaniment by sound, props, or costume is allowed.
  • Each poem should be between 1-4 minutes (max of 5 minutes). Points will be deducted from the final score for exceeding the time limit — one point for going over time and an extra point every 30 seconds beyond that. For example: At 5:01 minutes you will lose a point. At 5:31 minutes you will lose another point.
  • No musical accompaniment. No props. No costumes. Personal poem transcripts permitted.
  • Judges hold up score cards using a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the highest.
  • Scores will be based on: performance, writing ability, uniqueness, and crowd reaction.
  • All performances must be inspired by the theme of ‘Respectful Relationships
  • All entrants must supply their script.
  • White Ribbon reserves the right to take photos and videos of the performers at the event and utilise the video/photos/script to promote Respectful Relationships.

 

Entry:

You will need to provide your email address, school, name and stage name if applicable, and upload your poem. You may also upload a video of you performing the poem if you wish. You’ll also need to provide a photo for the programme and a brief bio for our MC so our MC can introduce you. Entry Forms will be available here from 12 August 2019.

 

On the Night:

Information about the evening will be sent to all performers. There will be an opportunity for a brief sound check and we will send information to you about how the evening will run.

 

Prizes:

We hope to announce the prizes in the next few weeks. The bare minimum is $500 for first place and $200 for the runner up and $100 for third place. Your work could also feature in the November White Ribbon Campaign.

 

History of Slam Poetry

One of the most vital and energetic movements in poetry during the 1990s, slam has revitalized interest in poetry in performance. Poetry began as part of an oral tradition, and the Beat and Negritude poets were devoted to the spoken and performed aspects of their poems. This interest was reborn through the rise of poetry slams across America; while many poets in academia found fault with the movement, slam was well received among young poets and poets of diverse backgrounds as a democratizing force. This generation of spoken word poetry is often highly politicized, drawing upon racial, economic, and gender injustices as well as current events for subject manner.

A slam itself is simply a poetry competition in which poets perform original work alone or in teams before an audience, which serves as judge. The work is judged as much on the manner and enthusiasm of its performance as its content or style, and many slam poems are not intended to be read silently from the page. The structure of the traditional slam was started by construction worker and poet Marc Smith in 1986 at a reading series in a Chicago jazz club. The competition quickly spread across the country, finding a notable home in New York City at the Nuyorican Poets Café.

taken from https://poets.org/text/brief-guide-slam-poetry

 

White Ribbon’s Youth Ambassador Leadership Programme

The spoken word competition is part of White Ribbon’s Youth Ambassador Leadership Programme. You can find out more about this programme here and look at the resources for Youth Ambassadors here. White Ribbon NZ promotes respectful relationships to prevent men’s violence against women. An effective feature of White Ribbon’s strategy is to have Ambassadors, who are respected and influential role models, promoting White Ribbon messages to their network and community.

Ambassadors play a vital role in building support, visibility and promoting White Ribbon’s messages to new groups. They can keep the White Ribbon messages alive beyond the November campaign. Increasingly White Ribbon is targeting young men to promote respectful behaviour in their relationships with women.

 

The Death Podcast

Mark Longley speaks at a Parliamentary breakfast

Mark Longley is an Ambassador for White Ribbon, an organisation that began in response to the murder of 14 women in Canada and has now spread to 60 countries around the globe. Its aim is to speak to men, about men’s violence towards women and demonstrate the alternatives to violence – respectful relationships.

It’s a role Mark would never have taken on had it not been for the death of his daughter Emily Longley at the hands of a violent young man in the UK.

“As a parent that has lost a child, you are always trying to make sense of the tragedy. I donate my time to White Ribbon in the hope that no other family ever has to go through what we have endured. We talk about men taking responsibility to change the behaviour of our mates. In my daughter’s story, if just one of her boyfriend’s mates had not remained silent, Emily could be alive today. That’s a theme I return to, in the hope that I can influence other young men out there.”

Mark and Emily Longley

“But what I also noticed, is that we don’t talk about death. No one prepares us and the routines we have in place just don’t cut it.  We don’t know what to say or do when people experience the impacts of a death and I wanted to explore that.”

Mark and the Newshub team have put together a three part podcast which is about love, grief and hope.

“I have spoken to people who have experienced grief, from losing a father to suicide to a grandmother 20 years ago whose loss is still keenly felt. I spoke to experts and colleagues and looked at both the process of grieving and helping those we know are mourning. And here is the thing: death, for all its inevitability, sucks. It doesn’t matter if it is your daughter, your grandmother, your spouse or a relative, it sucks and yet it remains taboo in many societies, and I wanted to challenge that.”

The podcast is called Death and is in three chapters.

Emily Longley

  • Chapter 1. Death
  • Chapter 2. Grief
  • Chapter 3. Hope

“I know I’m on a journey and it’s taken me out of my comfort zone, but I do it to honour Emily, and play my part to reduce the level of violence in New Zealand. In December last year I spoke at two vigils for Grace Millane – the British backpacker who was murdered in New Zealand. It’s not something I would have done if my daughter were alive, but I know that work and this podcast are something Emily would be proud of.

“Death is going to come to us all, so this is a podcast for everyone, whether you are experiencing grief or know someone who is. We talk about death and loss, but also love and hope. I loved Emily and when she died, I almost died too. But I found a way through and I hope this podcast will help anyone else who is grieving find their way through it.”

Mark would like to thank everyone who took part as it takes courage to recount your own personal experiences and share them with the world.

Click to listen to the Death podcast on:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Links:

Newshub’s homepage for the show
Profile in The Guardian
Interview on Australia’s ABC network
BBC article

 

White Ribbon would like to acknowledge Newshub Reporting for support with this story.

Workforce Inclusion and Diversity conference

The 2nd Annual Workforce Inclusion and Diversity conference (Auckland, 28 – 30 August 2019) will feature over 30 diverse speakers, over 20 solution-focused case studies, and a number of interactive panels, roundtable sessions and inspirational keynotes to help you to implement best practice D&I strategies at your organisation.

Hear from:

  • Tamati Coffey, MP for Waiariki 
  • Anne Fitisemanu, Chief Executive Officer, Tupu Toa
  • Ailsa Claire, OBE Chief Executive Officer, Auckland District Health Board
  • Heather Shotter, Chief Executive officer, Palmerston North City Council
  • Chris Quin, Chief Executive Officer, Foodstuffs New Zealand
  • David Walsh, Chief Executive Officer, New Zealand Post 
  • Rachel Froggatt, Chief Executive Officer, Women in Sport Aotearoa
  • Glen Cornelius, Managing Director, Harrison Grierson

PLUS, our very own Anna Campbell, White Ribbon Board Member and Ambassador, on supporting employees in the workplace dealing with domestic violence.

And many others…

 Key themes to be covered:

  • Aligning D&I with business goals
  • Leadership development Maori and Pacific Islanders
  • Achieving gender equity, equality and balance
  • Intersectionality
  • Neurodiversity
  • LGBTQIA+ inclusive initiatives
  • Addressing unconscious bias, myths, assumptions
  • Improving mental wellbeing
  • Promoting religious diversity
  • Leading a multigenerational workforce
  • Inclusive workplace for staff with disabilities
  • Enablers for successful flexibility and work-life balance

For more information download the brochure or visit wdni-nz.aventedge.com.

To register, click here and apply VIP discount code ‘WR10’ to save 10% off your ticket!

Have questions? Email info@aventedge.com or call 02 91888 8950

 

White Ribbon Youth Ambassador Leadership Programme (YALP) Wellington

White Ribbon is teaming up with Wellington College to get our Youth Ambassador Leadership Programme underway in the wider Wellington Region. The White Ribbon Youth Ambassador Leadership Programme supports high school students to promote respectful behaviour.

We are holding a day long workshop on 02 August with Ambassadors such as Mark Longley, Eteuati Ete from the Laughing Samoans, White Ribbon Riders, NZ Police, local support services and all four local Mayors.

The workshop educates and activates young people, providing them with the knowledge and skills to lead and create action within their schools and wider communities and links them to White Ribbon Ambassadors who can mentor them.

Students then go back into their school communities as Youth Ambassadors  who are able to spread the kaupapa within their peer groups

Draft Programme

TIME SESSION DESCRIPTION
09:45am Welcome Welcome, overview and house rules

Gregor Fountain, Wellington College Principal

10:00am Overview of Family Violence in NZ An overview of the issue facing New Zealand including what family violence/harm actually is and who it affects and some of the responses to end violence.

Rob McCann, White Ribbon Manager

10:45am Emily Longley’s Story Emily Longley was murdered by her boyfriend and that could have been prevented.

Mark Longley, White Ribbon Ambassador and Board Member

11:00am Leadership What leadership looks like and how to get people on board to support an idea.

Mayors Ray Wallace, Wayne Guppy, Justin Lester, Mike Tana

11:50am Recap of morning activities David Cournane to lead the recap

 

noon Lunch  

 

12:30pm Violence in our homes and communities The effects of violence in homes and how change is possible.

Eteuati Ete (member of the Laughing Samoans) and Mele Wendt, White Ribbon Ambassadors

 

1:15pm

 

Police and Community response How the Police and Community Agencies respond to violence occurring and how they hope to prevent violence.
1:45pm White Ribbon Riders The White Ribbon Ride, plus opportunity for photos with bikes

Rick Hepi, White Ribbon Rider TBC

2:00pm How to create change Workshops on how to create change in your communities eg at school or in clubs

Led by Ron Vink, White Ribbon Ambassador

Students split into groups, each with a facilitator

Mark Longley, Rob McCann, Eteuati Ete, Mele Wendt, White Ribbon Rider, David Cournane, additional Ambassadors

2:40pm Wrap-up Summary of day’s learnings and the next steps

Mark Longley and Rob McCann

 

3:00pm Students depart  

 

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White Ribbon would like to acknowledge the Millane Family who have decided to donate proceeds from the sale of a bracelet made by and LL Loves which celebrates the life of their daughter Grace Millane who was murdered in New Zealand while backpacking.

  • To find out more about how the Youth Ambassador Leadership programme works click here.
  • To contact White Ribbon to discuss the YALP click here.

 

‘Harm Ends Futures Begin’ – David White’s story

David White on The AM Show 2019

When David White refers to himself as being ‘Just a granddad from Matamata’, you can’t help thinking if all granddads were like him, the world would be a better place.

David’s daughter Helen Meads was shot dead by her millionaire racehorse breeder husband Greg Meads 11 years ago. Just days earlier, she had finally declared she was leaving him after years of psychological and physical abuse, but he got to her before she could escape. Helen’s mistake was to tell him she was going.

To ensure stories like his daughters aren’t repeated, with the support of the Police, David has spent the last seven years sharing his experience with whoever needs to hear his message – health professionals, prisoners and the general public. He speaks from the heart. His story is confronting and he delivers it with real honesty and this resonates with his audiences. It gives them the strength to reach out, speak up for others or change their behaviour and David has made a difference.

People regularly call him to reach out about their situation. Hardcore prisoners have had light bulb moments after listening to what he has to say and vowed to change their ways. He has even had a letter turn up at home addressed to “Helen Mead’s Dad, Matamata’, from a random stranger asking for help.

Speaking to a packed room of health professionals at Northland DHB who regularly deal with family violence, David implored to them to not be “if only” people. He explained that he and several other people directly involved with Helen have had “if only” moments since her death and now it is time to stop being polite and to start making a change.

Before Helen married Greg, he made her sign a prenuptial agreement, and he held that over her throughout their turbulent marriage. Outwardly she was a happy person, who loved her horses, her kids and was a popular figure in the racing industry. Behind closed doors, Helen suffered at the hands of Greg. She did attempt to leave several times but never made it. When her mother and her daughter found out she had died, they both knew it would have had something to do with Greg.

Greg was convicted of her murder in 2010, but even from prison, he tried to keep control over her family. David and his wife Pam had to fight for the custody and financial security of Helen’s children, which lasted for nine long, expensive years. The children have suffered not only losing their mum but have had to live with the trauma of Greg being responsible, which the couple have had to navigate through.

Launching 'Helen, the Helen Meads Tragedy' in 2012

Launching ‘Helen, the Helen Meads Tragedy’ in 2012

During one of David’s presentations, he had a light bulb moment of his own when he realised for them to carry on and create a healthy environment for their grandchildren, they had to stop hating Greg.

With that, he set up a meeting with Greg in prison to discuss how to move forward for the kids, explaining that otherwise, they could lose them too. David agreed to support Greg’s release at his next parole hearing so he could be around as a father again and Greg broke down. He then decided to release his finances to support his children, which took just 12 minutes, after nine years of fighting.

“Greg has two and a half years until parole, and I’ll do all that’s required of me as far as corrections are concerned. We haven’t forgiven him, but what are our choices? We have none. We are doing this for our grandchildren.” David believes the key to change is to get people in danger to reach out and to equip those that they reach out to, to have the power to act. “We need to put confidentiality aside and put lives first. We have to understand that it’s all 100 percent preventable. It needn’t happen.”

Before this speaking tour, David approached 71 MPs around the country, asking them to support him. Only 44 responded. He still visited each of the 71 electorates, making 120 presentations from February until the end of May, because as he says, “Greg was worth $40,000,000, but he was still violent – violence knows no boundaries. Family violence is intergenerational, and we need to stop it. If we can raise the alarm, family safety teams can step in.”

Northland DHB violence intervention programme coordinator Paula Anderson says the Ministry of Health Violence Intervention Programme (VIP) has been in operation across all DHB’s in New Zealand since 2007. VIP aims to prevent and reduce health harm from family violence, specifically child abuse and intimate partner violence. VIP operates across all Northland DHB sites, and the VIP team provide consultation, support and training for all DHB staff around intervention in child abuse and intimate partner violence.

“It is important that ‘every door at Northland DHB is the right door’ for individuals seeking support for family violence. Every day, staff from around the DHB identify individuals and their children experiencing family violence, engage in safety planning and refer to external services and agencies to support the safety of the family/whanau.”

After his last presentation on Friday, David retired. He says he’s been speaking out for seven years and has decided to pull back as he’s lost resilience. He and Pam then ended this long journey by going to Spirit’s Bay, where they could finally grieve.

WHERE TO GET HELP
If you are in danger or are being subjected to sexual violence, call 111 – or call these 24 hour helplines:

  • Women’s Refuge (Females only) – crisis line available on 0800 REFUGE or 0800 733 843
  • Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust (Males only) – 0800 044 334 Rape Crisis – 0800 88 33 00 Victim Support – 0800 842 846

Community Spirit

Dannevirke in the lower North Island has a population of just over 5000. Despite its relatively small size the White Ribbon Ambassadors and supporters in the area have created an impressive programme of regular events to help prevent men’s violence against women. White Ribbon Ambassador Tamai Nicholson leads the local Ambassador cluster and has been influential in raising the profile of White Ribbon in the Dannevirke community over the past few years.

Last year’s Dannevirke White Ribbon dinner catered to 83 guests! There was even a White Ribbon float in the local Christmas parade, featuring a black car decorated with White Ribbons. The local White Ribbon committee runs an annual programme, aiming to have regular quarterly events.

This year they have already been involved in a joint community event with Tararua Youth Services and Tararua REAP called “take it to the streets”, which aimed to connect with families that can be hard to reach in order to develop trust with the services available in the Tararua District. They set up a table with fruit so that people could make their own fruit kebabs, which was very successful with children and adults alike. They also handed out White Ribbon Tattoos, which proved very popular.

The first female White Ribbon Ambassador in the Tararua region Deanna Veerkamp, herself a survivor of domestic violence, has played a major role in organizing the events. She also found that men who had stood up and taken the pledge sometimes struggled to know what to do after that, so she started making up little packs that include all the services available in Dannevirke that can assist men who want to change.

The Dannevirke White Ribbon Committee are currently planning an event in August featuring White Ribbon Ambassador Jude Simpson, who is the Royal New Zealand Police College’s Victims Manager and a tireless advocate for violence prevention.

One key to the success of Dannevirke’s White Ribbon events in recent years is the relatively high number of Ambassadors in the area to spread the kaupapa and the workload. There are four Ambassadors in Dannevirke and three others in the wider region.

If you would consider being nominated or would like to nominate someone else in your community to become a White Ribbon Ambassador, please download the application form here or get in touch with the Campaign team (contact@whiteribbon.org.nz) for more information.

If you have any stories about White Ribbon events in your area, please get in touch. We would love to share them with the White Ribbon community.

Three generations of White Ribbon Ambassador Deanna Veerkamp’s family working together to prevent men’s violence against women. Deanna sewed cloth White Ribbons onto her daughter and granddaughters’ t-shirts for the event. Another daughter, who couldn’t be there on the day assisted in putting together over 500 packs for them to hand out on the day. They also had balloons and temporary tattoos for the children.