Row for Respect

 Last June, Nicola Goss walked away from an abusive relationship that had lasted seven months. She received government-funded counselling including EMDR therapy. She has found the counsellng and therapy very effective and she is really grateful for the support she received.

Nicola decided she wanted to give back and raise awareness of the importance of respect in all aspects of life – respect for partners, family members, work colleagues, teachers, students, teammates, the environment and self-respect. In order to raise awareness and help to prevent others suffering as she did she committed to two physical challenges to raise funds for White Ribbon to assist us in our efforts to prevent violence through challenging unhelpful attitudes and encouraging behavioural change. Respect, especially within relationships, is central to White Ribbon’s kaupapa.

Her fundraising events “Row for Respect” took place in November. The first was a half marathon on the rowing machine which she did on the 2nd of November at her gym in Palmerston North and the second was a full marathon on the rowing machine which she did at the New Zealand Indoor Rowing Championships in Cambridge.

The first event was the 3rd time she had completed a half marathon. Nicola bet her personal best time, set a New Zealand record for her age group (it’s the fastest time recorded for all females) and she is currently the fastest female in the world for this year’s Concept 2 world rankings (1st May 2019 – 30th April 2020).

The full marathon was the first one she had ever done. She got a singlet, t-shirt and information board printed for the event. Nicola noted: “I started well however with 19km to go it became quite challenging, I got a few blisters and I had to stop a number of times to fuel up. I managed to avoid cramp, which I could start to feel coming on – I was super lucky it magically disappeared but I timed my sprint finish a little too late. The marathon was a new experience and there are a lot of lessons to take away from it.”

We are extremely grateful to Nicola for choosing to fundraise for White Ribbon and for committing to raising awareness of the issue of violence in our society and the need for respect to underpin all our relationships. We are delighted she achieved her goals and want to celebrate her success both in rowing and in surviving an abusive relationship.

If you have a great idea to raise awareness in your community or fundraise for White Ribbon please get in touch with us at We are happy to provide resources and help to publicise community events.

Trek for Trish

On the 19th of January, two sisters Rosie and Barbara shared memories of their sister Trish Wallis with 60 horse riders and 9 walkers in their “Trek for Trish”, an event created by her friends and family to honour Trish’s life. Trish was murdered by her ex-husband Mike Douthett on the 26th of November 2018.

Horses were Trish’s passion and she took part in the annual Great New Zealand Trek from Cape Reinga to Bluff, her death denying her the chance to complete the 14th and final leg. Some of her friends and family organised the trek in her honour for what would have been her 52nd birthday, so it was a very special day. Her cousin Fred Wallis came all the way from the UK to take part.

At the time she was shot and killed, Trish had recently left her husband and sadly that has repeatedly been proven to be one of the most dangerous times for women in abusive relationships. If you are in danger or you know someone who is, please click here to see a list of organisations that can provide advice and assistance including putting together a safety plan.

The organisers made the event a fundraiser for White Ribbon in the hope that others don’t have to go through what their family did. In the words of Trish’s sister Barbara: “Stand up against control and violence. If you think that someone you know is in a situation then more than likely they are. Ask and talk. Do it without judgement, these people are not weak, in fact the opposite.”

Trish’s sister Rosie Wallis made a video with a personal call to action on preventing violence against women, highlighting the terrible statistics around family harm in New Zealand and ensuring equality and respect for women. Her video can be viewed here.

We know most men are not violent and we need those men to speak out on this issue and challenge other men when they display abusive behavior toward women. We need to undermine the attitudes and behaviours that support violence and instead encourage healthy, respectful relationships.

We are extremely grateful to Trish’s family and friends for raising awareness about the serious issue of violence against women in this country. This violence affects women from all walks of life. We are also very thankful for the funds raised to help us in our efforts to spread that message throughout the wider community.


Seeking New White Ribbon Researcher

Last month we mentioned White Ribbon’s Researcher Dr Fiona Shearer has taken up a permanent role elsewhere. We are very sad to farewell Fiona as she was a really valuable member of our small team. As a result, we are now looking for someone new to take on this important role.

While there are occasionally busy periods conducting research and interpreting data, it is predominantly an advisory position. It is a paid position with variable hours and it is a role that can be undertaken from home so if you are currently seeking some additional work please get in touch.

The researcher plays an vital role in educating the Trust and staff on evolving research into best practice regarding violence prevention and ensuring campaign messaging is appropriate and effective. As we are a small team it’s essential that the researcher is a team player, willing to collaborate with others and respond to external enquiries when required.

The ideal candidate will have a thorough understanding of social services in New Zealand and experience developing research questions, conducting interviews and writing reports. It would be helpful if you had well-developed community networks. An understanding of media and communications would also add value.

If you would like to know more, or express interest in this role please contact the White Ribbon Campaign Manager Rob McCann at We look forward to hearing from you.

Essential services functioning during Level 4

Domestic violence sadly will not stop while the country deals with COVID-19. Internationally there have been reports of increased incidences of family harm during these stressful times. If you have concerns about anyone’s wellbeing during this challenging period please contact Shine or Women’s Refuge, which are both classified as essential services, for support. If there is immediate danger please contact 111 and ask for the police.

If you would like to contact Shine please call their Helpline for domestic violence information and support for yourself, or advice about helping someone you know, at 0508-744-633. This number is answered 7 days a week, 9am to 11pm of Women’s Refuge on 0800 733 843 or you can contact your local Refuge here

Women’s Refuge have provided some excellent advice about the impact of COVID-19 on those experiencing violence and tips for providing assistance. They note:

“Some people using violence may use COVID19 to further isolate their partners. The impacts of the pandemic on families and communities do not cause violence, but it can mean abusers have more opportunities to perpetrate and conceal violence. Abusive people might withhold essential items from victims, [use] scare tactics about the virus, or prevent them from seeking help. Victims might feel reluctant to enter Refuges or seek social support if they think it will put their health at risk.” Although their services may look different and they may need to ask health questions, they remain open and able to assist.

If you are worried about a friend or loved one Women’s Refuge suggest:

You can support them by keeping in touch with them. Some people may find it difficult to talk while in isolation if the abusive person is monitoring their devices. You can:

  • Agree on a ‘code word’ in advance with your friend. If they message you that word, you can call the police and ask them to check on them.
  • Ask them if they have the essential things they need (such as food, medication, and sanitary items) and help them to get them. Some abusive people will withhold these items.
  • Help them to feel less isolated by setting up regular times to talk to you and to others.
  • Encourage them to get in touch with Women’s Refuge if they feel unsafe.”

For men who feel like they might harm a loved one or whanau member another valuable service is the Hey Bro helpline: 0800 Hey Bro (439 276) which is staffed 24/7

It is also important to note that the Family Court is still accepting urgent without notice applications for protection and parenting orders, and most family lawyers are set up to work from home to facilitate this. The Family Court have amended the requirements for applications, so that they can be made without requiring people to leave their homes and do not require people to have access to a printer or similar device – lawyers can now go from the initial discussion to filing an application with the Court and Legal Aid without having to meet in person at all.

There is a much larger list of organisations that may be able to assist anyone experiencing violence or concerned about someone else here.

If you are in immediate danger, call 111 and ask for the police.
Leaving a violent relationship can be the most dangerous time for you. Contact an organisation like Women’s Refuge or Shine* to work out a safety plan.
You can contact the following agencies for help.

Multicultural White Ribbon Dinner – A Resounding Success!

White Ribbon Ambassadors Vishal Rishi, Inspector Rakesh Naidoo and Raj Bedi

White Ribbon Ambassador Vishal Rishi, who is director of The Asian Network – a pan-Asian organization dedicated to ensuring people of Asian background enjoy optimal quality of life and well-being in New Zealand, worked with two other organisations Sahaayta and Shanti Niwas to organize a White Ribbon dinner in Auckland last November to raise awareness around family violence within Asian communities. He noted “people still do not accept that this is very much present in their communities. Family harm has always been a taboo in ethnic communities, so awareness is lacking in our South Asian community.”

While the event highlighted the scale of violence towards women the organisers also sought to provide advice about what to do to prevent violence and how to deal with issues that arise. Two other White Ribbon Ambassadors also took part, Raj Bedi led the group in making the White Ribbon pledge and Inspector Rakesh Naidoo of the New Zealand Police spoke about the prevalence of family violence and urged community leaders to stand up and address the issue. Sr Constable Mandeep Kaur and Dr Ashraf Choudhry also spoke to encourage attendees to speak out and come for advice and assistance when needed. The organisers also chose to honour two members of the local community Barrister Arunjeev Singh and Mr Karnail Singh for their work keeping the community safe and nurturing communities.
The event was a huge success with about 240 people in attendance. We know it can be challenging to get community buy in, especially for ticketed events like this and asked Vishal for any advice he could share with others who may want to organize big community events. He commented “You need to try to include multiple grassroot communities, make it local and relevant to the audience.” We would like to thank all the individuals and organizations involved for the time and energy they put into organizing the event which has made so many people in the community aware of the issues we face and steps they can take to prevent violence.
Vishal became a White Ribbon Ambassador in 2018 and has been a great asset to the team, representing White Ribbon at local events and assisting with the campaign advertisements we produced in 2018 in other languages. When asked about his reasons for becoming an Ambassador he remarked: “I put my hand up for this noble cause because I used to feel really bad & helpless when I used to hear about any incident of domestic violence. Not only physical abuse but how husbands/partners treat their better halves. In fact, I hear stories of elder abuse every day. All this made me really upset and frustrated as I work in the public health sector and talk about people’s health & well-being all the time but still, I was unable to help the families who are going through such tough times due to abuse in their families. All this has encouraged me to stand up and stand against violence against women & children”.

If you would like to join the White Ribbon Ambassador team and help to prevent violence in your community find out more here or write to us at

National Relationship Manager

Pam Hughes has joined our White Ribbon Team as National Relationship Manager.

Pam’s career as a Senior Manager for over 25 years within the Social Service sector has seen her work closely with many agencies and families. Her most recent position of almost 14 years, was as Regional Director for Community Ministries in The Salvation Army in South Auckland. Prior to this, she has worked in varied senior positions for Ministry of Social Development, Work and Income and NZ Employment service.

During this period, she was a Board member with both Friendship House Trust Manukau and Manukau Beautification Trust.

Pam has a proven and successful record of developing partnerships with both Government and Non-Government agencies for initiatives that support making a difference for families and individuals to achieve their own goals, potential and independence.

She has worked intensively with many agencies and departments within the family violence/harm arena and closely with many victims and perpetrators at every level. This experience will assist White Ribbon as we continue to develop campaign to reach and change men’s behaviour and attitudes.

Pam has supported White Ribbon for many years, helping to create and run the White Ribbon High School Breakfast and Spoken Word competitions while working in the South Auckland community at The Salvation Army. The success of these events has encouraged Pam to look at additional opportunities across the Auckland region.

Her role will also be to seek additional funding support, scope future initiatives, seek collaboration and partnerships for White Ribbon across numerous sectors.

Pam has received various awards over her time within the Social Service sectors, recently including; Influential Champion Recognition from Whaitiaki Charitable Trust for her work supporting whanau, tamariki and rangatahi, and additionally a Certificate of Appreciation from Area Commander Counties Manukau Police in recognition for youth programme delivery and continued work with young people.

Pam’s passion to support young people to make the right decisions in their lives, in particular to promote healthy and respectful relationships is something she will continue to undertake with White Ribbon. Additionally, education for young people, and all those experiencing family harm, including children, will be another area of commitment Pam intends to pursue.

White Ribbon is very excited to have Pam working with us for an initial 12-month period. Her experience within the family harm area, including stopping violence toward women allows us to discuss additional avenues for possible programme delivery and funding for our kaupapa.

White Ribbon would like to acknowledge this position and resource has been made possible by the generosity of a private benefactor, committed to supporting the growth and ongoing work of White Ribbon, for which we are extremely appreciative.

White Ribbon responds to sentencing of Grace Millane’s murderer

A minimum of 17 years for one life. How can we make this better?


Today the unnamed man found guilty of murdering Grace Millane was sentenced to life in prison with a non-parole period of 17.

“One person has been locked away but are New Zealand women any safer?” asks White Ribbon Manager Rob McCann.

“We certainly feel better about ourselves, but in locking away one person we have not addressed the fact that one in three women experience violence from a partner or ex-partner in their lifetime. We have not addressed the unhealthy attitudes towards women that are nurtured by pornography, or the clichéd masculinity that is created when we tell our young men that ‘boys don’t cry’ or to ‘harden up’.”

“We have not addressed the victim blaming which the defence tried to utilise and that those same myths were repeated by sections of our communities.”

White Ribbon Ambassador Mark Longley agrees. “It is great that justice has been done today and the man who murdered Grace will spend a long time behind bars.

“What is a shame though is that in the 12 months after Grace’s murder we saw a higher than average number of women in New Zealand die at the hands of their partner.

The behaviour displayed by the man who killed Grace shocked me. Descriptions of how he smuggled her body out of the hotel, went on a date and he watched pornography hours after killing her were appalling.

I am sure the traits of an abusive personality would have been seen by friends and colleagues, but were likely never challenged.

The death of Grace and the women after her must not be in vain, violence against women, in any form, is wrong and it is up to us men to spread that message.

As men our voice can be incredibly powerful, whether that is just checking in on a mate and asking if he is ok, or uniting to speak out against violence towards women, says Mr Longley.

White Ribbon is adamant that we must learn from the Grace Millane murder.

“If we want to address the violence that killed Grace, we have to look at the causes,” says Mr McCann. We must examine and undermine the attitudes and behaviours that enable the kind of toxic masculinity that drove the killer, and at the same time support healthy masculinity and respectful relationships (which are a protection against violence).

“We see Healthy Masculinity as rejecting unhelpful stereotypes and #unspoken rules about what it is to be a boy or man and replacing those with qualities such as kindness, being empathetic and finding peaceful resolutions to problems.

“Healthy masculinity is about boys and men being confident in who they are, without feeling pressure to be a certain type of boy/man.

“Boys and men can still be ‘brave’, ‘have muscles’, assertive, tough, love rugby, enjoy time with other men and boys, enjoy a ‘pint’ with the lads. But boys and men should also be free to express sad emotions, enjoy cooking, dancing, gardening and anything else that does not fit into rigid gender stereotypes.

“Healthy masculinity is treating everyone with respect and having Respectful Relationships (which always include consent).

“This is what we much teach our boys to ensure they do not buy into the kind of toxic behaviour that encourages men to use violence and disrespect women.

“And when men encounter men that are violent or hold sexist views, they must be encouraged to stand up and call out the bad behaviour.

“These actions will help reduce violence by undermining the attitudes that support violence and by promoting the healthy masculinity that supports Respectful Relationships.”

For more information about how to support Healthy Masculinity go to


The victim-blaming defence (that didn’t work this time)

The sentencing of Grace Millane’s killer to life in prison with a minimum non-parole period of  17 years marks the end of a judicial process that can only have been extremely harrowing for her family. They had already experienced the loss of their daughter, literally every parent’s worst nightmare.

White Ribbon Campaign Manager Rob McCann states: “We need to act to prevent other women suffering the same fate. We need to focus on educating our young people about healthy sexual relationships and the meaning of consent. If we do not, they will learn from other sources – their mates or the increasingly violent pornography that is now readily available to anyone with an internet connection irrespective of age.”

A useful resource for understanding and teaching consent is the cup of tea video.

Access to pornography has never been easier and the content regularly features the domination of women. Last year BBC Radio 5 live, commissioned a survey in which it asked 2,002 UK women aged between 18 and 39 if they had experienced various acts during sex.

The majority (59%) had experienced slapping, 38% had experienced choking, 34% had experienced gagging, 20% had experienced spitting and 59% had experienced biting. Almost half of the women (44%) surveyed, said these acts were always wanted.

However, 29% said they were unwanted some of the time, 14% said they were unwanted most of the time, and 10% said they were unwanted every time.[1] A substantial number of respondents felt pressured into these behaviours which suggests their partners lacked a clear understanding of consent. McCann notes: “While this survey was conducted in the UK, there is no reason to believe results would be significantly different in the New Zealand context. In fact, with our intimate partner violence statistics they may be worse.”

The Centre for Women’s Justice in the UK said the figures showed a “growing pressure on young women to consent to violent, dangerous and demeaning acts”, which was “likely to be due to the normalisation of extreme pornography”.[2]

“In December 2018, strangulation became a stand-alone offence,” says Mr McCann “and immediately the number of charges and convictions went through the roof. What we think this indicates is widespread use of strangulation being used not as part of what is known as ‘breath play’, a sexual act that is consented to, but as acts of violence towards women.” As reported by Alison Mau, Women’s Refuge Chief Executive, Dr Anj Jury, said strangulation was so common many victims neglected to even mention it.[3]

This is relevant because Millane’s killer sought to avoid facing the penalty for committing murder by arguing that her death was the result of an accident during consensual rough sex. This is an international issue and there is increasing pressure on Western governments worldwide to ban the so-called “rough sex” defence for murder, which many suggest has evolved from the “she asked for it” defence commonly used in rape trials.

As Canadian commentators have observed: “The “rough sex” defence is not gender neutral. The sex is “rough” for women, not men. “Rough sex” depicted in pornography and in practice is marked by gender asymmetry. It is overwhelmingly women who are on the receiving end of this violence and whose health and very lives are on the line.”[4]

Rob McCann says “In this type of defence, the defendant takes the focus off their own behaviour and encourages discussion of the victim’s prior sexual history and preferences. This is an irrelevant distraction in a murder trial. They use the defence to blame the victim and it is totally unacceptable. There is no way of knowing what the victim wanted or said in this instance, and you simply cannot consent to being murdered.”

“The idea that rough sex could result in accidental death is a fallacy. It takes considerable pressure to strangle someone and if a sexual partner loses consciousness for any reason during sex, the logical response would be stop and check they are ok. While engaging in sadomasochistic behaviours can be a valid choice for consenting adults, it comes with the responsibility to ensure the safety of your partner.”

For more information about how to support Healthy Masculinity go to

Students take the lead

Last year we introduced a reinvigorated Youth Ambassador Leadership Programme in the Wellington region. We were thrilled to have 30 schools and 240 students and staff in attendance at that first workshop. The main focus of the programme is to equip students to take on leadership on the issue of violence prevention and we encouraged them to come up with their own projects and events to spread the White Ribbon kaupapa within their schools. We have been really impressed by the range of activities our Youth Ambassadors have undertaken and we would like to highlight some of the fantastic work they are doing to spread anti-violence messages and promote a re-evaluation of some of the outmoded stereotypes of masculinity.

So far there have been school dances, information evenings, assemblies, talks utilising some of our adult Ambassadors as well as our Spoken Word competition and there are plenty of other events planned for early 2020. Today we wanted to share one project in particular. The White Ribbon Youth Ambassadors at Scots College created a fantastic short film that takes the central ideas of the campaign and creates a personal, relatable film using students and staff to address the issue of what it means to be a man today.

The filmmakers spoke to staff and other students about masculinity, undermining those old unhelpful stereotypes like “boys don’t cry” and coming up with realistic positive definitions of 21st century masculinity. The speakers talk about the culture of silence and highlight the importance of challenging your mates when necessary. It’s a powerful message that we really wanted to share.

One of our key aims with the Youth Ambassador Leadership Programme (YALP) is to give students the information about the issues we face as a society and encourage them to find their own way of communicating it to their peers. It is so important that young people get these messages not only from the adults in their lives but also that they take ownership of this issue and message if we want to see real change in the future. The Youth Ambassadors at Scots College have demonstrated that they are more than capable of taking leadership in this space.

The programme is running again this year so if you know of a school that might be interested in taking part please pass this on and encourage them to get in touch with us. There is no cost to schools, beyond transporting students, and we want to make this programme available to as many schools as possible. There is more information about YALP here. There are currently plans to run the Youth Ambassador Leadership Programme in Wellington, Gisborne, Napier and Auckland in 2020 but we are keen to see it rolled out in other regions as well. Please write to us at if you would like more information.

Community Spotlight – Taranaki Safe Families Trust

Every year we are amazed at the fantastic work community groups around the country are doing to spread the White Ribbon kaupapa. This month we wanted to highlight one of organisations leading this vital work within their region.

Established in 2008, Taranaki Safe Families Trust (TSFT) is a collaborative of 26 government and non-government agencies leading the family violence prevention campaign in Taranaki.  They aim to promote awareness, encourage the utilisation of local services and advocate for long term cultural change in their community.  TSFT has established project groups which contribute to the campaign including family violence workplace training, professional development and an extreme risk case management process. The overall vision of TSFT is for Taranaki whānau to be safe and free of violence.

TSFT supports the White Ribbon Campaign and its focus on preventing men’s violence towards women, and delivers key messages to support White Ribbon throughout the year. We are delighted to have TSFT co-ordinator Dane Haskell as a White Ribbon Ambassador.

During November TSFT install large White Ribbons around the Taranaki region, submit columns in the local community newspapers and promote the White Ribbon kaupapa on various radio shows.

TSFT are proud co-organisers of the Waitara White Ribbon Poker Bike Run, which had more than 50 riders enter this year. They also had an expo event in Hāwera before finishing the campaign in New Plymouth with the annual White Ribbon Fun Relay – where 25 teams of local businesses and organisations compete in a community event to bring awareness to this important social issue. It has been running for seven years now and gets tremendous community support.

We are extremely grateful to Taranaki Safe Families Trust for the incredible work they have been doing for over a decade to make their community safer and their ongoing commitment to supporting White Ribbon.

If your organisation is working to spread the kaupapa please let us know so we can profile you in a future newsletter. If you would like to nominate someone to become a White Ribbon Ambassador download the nomination forms here.




Over $33,000 raised for White Ribbon at HighLight Festival and Ara Mai! Te Whiti Riser Night Walk

The HighLight: Carnival of Lights has been running for the past three years and over four nights during Labour Weekend the city is transformed by dazzling displays of light-based artworks. This free community event draws families from throughout the region and beyond to engage with interactive art. It is a truly joyous event and we were so honoured to be selected as the charity partner this year.

“We are extremely grateful to Hutt City Council and to the enormous number of volunteers who gave their time to make the event possible and help raise funds to prevent men’s violence against women,” says Rob McCann, White Ribbon Manager. “A combined total of over $33,000  was raised for White Ribbon at HighLight in October and the Ara Mai! Te Whiti Riser Night Walk in September and the team are absolutely stoked.”

While White Ribbon is a national charity, the funds will enhance and expand local projects and programmes that will assist community groups in their violence prevention activities.

“We especially want to thank two local businesses who went above and beyond,” says Mr McCann. Mitre10 Mega Petone purchased 6,000 rave sticks and staff volunteers sold them throughout the event.

“They raised an astounding $18,000 which is the largest single donation we have ever received from a business and it will have a huge impact on what we can offer in the region,” said Mr McCann.

“The team at Macaulay Metals used their incredible skills to produce a remarkable work for HighLight called Time Travel Machine that recalls a famous phone booth of unexpected dimensions, known to sci-fi fans worldwide. Visitors queued for the chance to enter this surreal space and at the end of HighLight Macaulay Metals auctioned it on TradeMe for White Ribbon’s benefit raising $5000 to help White Ribbon’s work in the community.”

“In addition to the vital funds raised, HighLight also gave us the opportunity to spread the White Ribbon kaupapa in the community, with over 100,000 people visiting over the four days. We are also very grateful to the White Ribbon Riders who came along with their motorbikes to connect with visitors and have deeper discussions about the work they do throughout the year. The Riders challenge stereotypes and ensure schools and communities are fully aware that respectful relationships are at the heart of violence prevention.”

Throughout New Zealand we have White Ribbon Ambassadors who are willing to stand up, speak out and act to prevent violence in their communities. They are a diverse group, who come from all walks of life, and are essential to White Ribbon.

“As a charity, we rely on our Ambassadors and their reach into local communities to build relationships and spread the message that violence is never ok. Ambassadors from throughout the Wellington region helped make this wonderful opportunity a success by volunteering at Highlight as well as co-ordinating behind the scenes.”

“Charities often struggle to raise the funds needed to continue their work. Hutt City Council, Mitre 10 Mega Petone, Macaulay Metals and all those who assisted at HighLight have provided our White Ribbon team with an incredible opportunity to support violence prevention in the region. We thank you all for your support.”