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.”

Silence Breeds Violence

Lizz Sadler and Pua Magasiva at the NZTV Awards 2017

The tragic death of actor Pua Magasiva following a suspected suicide highlights the need for family violence to be brought out into the open.

Pua, best known for his long running role in Shortland Street, pled guilty and had been convicted of assaulting his second wife Lizz Sadler following what we now know was multiple acts of violence.

“Lizz has bravely decided that silence is not the answer and is now speaking out,” says Rob McCann White Ribbon Manager. “The sad reality is that silence breeds violence. Being hidden allows the problem to exist below the radar. It enables perpetrators to continue using violence without accountability, and it helps to create a cycle of violence,” says Mr McCann.

“What we know is that if you grow up witnessing and experiencing family violence you are statistically more likely to go on to use violence. This occurs because we inadvertently teach our children that violence is a tool to get what we want. We also teach them that it’s ok so it should not surprise anyone that children go on to replicate the behaviour of their parents or caregivers.”

“By speaking out, Liz has said she wants her daughter who lived with them during the violence to know that it is not ok.”

I am also speaking for my daughter, Laylah, who lived with us full time and has been a witness to my husband’s ongoing violence – I need to have a voice for her to show her that this is not OK. As a victim in this continuous cycle of silence I do not wish for name suppression because this would silence me again, but now by those who wish to protect him and the system allowing them to do this.

“We must also ensure that it’s ok to ask for help,” says Mr McCann. “As a society I hope we would have forgiven Pua had he asked for help and changed his behaviour.”

“White Ribbon works with many former perpetrators and this is important on a number of levels. Firstly, they are often better at communicating with other men that use violence, and secondly they demonstrate that there is a healthier and more fulfilling path. Having Respectful Relationships founded on equality, respectful communication, flexible gender behaviour and consent creates better and long-lasting relationships that are not built on fear.”

“If you witness violence, or think something is wrong, ask if that person needs help. It’s easy to show you care about a victim, the real challenge for us is to help perpetrators change. We don’t know if anyone tried to help Pua, but as a friend or family member you can help break the cycle of violence by not keeping silent. You can show them you love them, but at the same time let them know their behaviour is not ok and that there is help available.

If you don’t know how to take action, White Ribbon has free resources available such as this video on how to disrupt other men’s violence .

Bystander Intervention
It is likely that many of Pua’s mates will have known of his behaviour or elements of it. As mates we have an opportunity to set the norms of what is ok and what is not.

If you hear someone say something disrespectful or display unhealthy behaviours such as harassing women, telling inappropriate jokes, picking a fight, etc., there are a few things you can do to challenge the language or behaviour. By doing nothing we are effectively condoning the behaviour. You can use one or more of the 4Ds;

  • be Direct – challenge them verbally ‘that’s not cool, bro’
  • Distract – get them to do something else, or ask a question of the person who is on the receiving end of the unhealthy behaviour to engage them in conversation (useful if you don’t feel safe being direct)
  • Delegate – talk to someone else about what is going on. Ask their friend/parent/workmate/boss what they think of the behaviour and if there is anything they can do to address it. Work together to see what you could do.
  • Delay – it might not always feel safe to intervene or challenge at the time, depending on the situation, so you can ask them later about whether they realised their behaviour was harmful, or ask the person who might have been on the receiving end how they are. (Adapted from – )
  • Watch and talk to others about this resource – Who Are You? (for older teenagers)

Get support for yourself


Hamilton City Council receives White Ribbon Accreditation

Hamilton City Council has formalised its commitment to preventing family violence in New Zealand.

Last month, the Council was awarded White Ribbon Accreditation to acknowledge its continued support of the White Ribbon kaupapa. To gain the business accreditation, the Council must have policies in place, trained staff and support proactive violence prevention.

Chief Executive Richard Briggs says this is great recognition of the Council’s ongoing commitment to the campaign.

“We’ve been supporting White Ribbon projects and have had support in place for our people for years. This is another great step up in our commitment as an employer and as an important part of our community.”

Along with the accreditation, the Council has two White Ribbon Ambassadors whose role is to influence and support the White Ribbon kaupapa.

“We need strong men who are willing to start a tough conversation about how we have respectful relationships with women and our behaviour towards them,” says Mr Briggs.

“We spend so much of our lives working, it almost becomes a second home. Whether you’re at work for 20 or 40 hours per week during that time you should feel safe and supported.”

White Ribbon Day (25 November) is the international day when people wear a white ribbon to show they won’t tolerate or condone violence towards women.

On Friday 29 November, a White Ribbon hikoi (walk) will begin at 11am from Meteor Theatre and finish in Garden Place where there will be live entertainment until 1pm.

This year’s theme is to challenge the Unspoken Rules. Unspoken Rules are the expectations boys and young men inherit from society, based on outdated ideas of what a man is, how he acts, and how he should express himself.

Hamilton City Council is now New Zealand’s largest council to receive White Ribbon Accreditation. Upper Hutt City Council, Carterton District Council and Napier City Council are also White Ribbon Accredited.

E Tū Te Awakairangi White Ribbon Breakfast

Throughout November organisations across New Zealand created fantastic opportunities for communities to gather together and work to challenge attitudes and behaviours that support violence and instead encourage respectful relationships and healthy masculinity. Over the next few months we would like to focus on some of these amazing events.

E Tū Te Awakairangi, which includes White Ribbon Ambassador Hine Sullivan, City Safety Manager at Hutt City Council, organized a White Ribbon Breakfast at the Walter Nash Stadium in Lower Hutt on Friday 22 November attracting over 70 members of the local community.  There was a great mix of young and old in attendance and the three guest speakers spoke on various topics relating to the White Ribbon kaupapa and Family Harm.

White Ribbon Ambassador Mele Wendt shared her very personal and candid story about her husband Ete’s offending and their combined effort to address this. Their commitment to each other and their whanau has seen an amazing change in Ete. Ete is no longer violent, he is also a White Ribbon Ambassador and together they share their story, with the hope that it will change other people’s lives and stop Family Violence.

Deb Robinson, spoke about her experience working in Women’s Refuge, her passion for Social Justice, and her role as the Family Violence Coordinator for Ahuru Mowai o Te Awakairangi.

Charlotte Lawrence, Deputy Chair of Hutt City Council’s Youth Council, recipient of the 2019 Hutt City Youth Award for Service to the community and second prize winner at the White Ribbon Spoken Word competition, had the entire audience captivated.  Her original White Ribbon Spoken Word speech, which was modified to include Respectful Relationships and Challenge #UNSPOKEN Rules, was pitched perfectly for the entire audience.

A number of the school students who attended stated that her speech was amazing, and they related to what she was saying, especially in relation to the #Unspoken Rules. These students have heard the examples Charlotte referred to on a regular basis: “Only girls cry”, “Harden up!” “Don’t be a girl”, and they have either been victims or responsible for making these comments.  Charlotte’s speech has reminded them that this is not acceptable and they will challenge people who make comments such as these in the future.

The schools who attended and provided entertainment, Pomare School, Avalon Intermediate and Taita College were fantastic.  Despite some understandable nerves, they performed beautifully.  They chose a combination of songs to support the kaupapa, including Maori songs.

The other person who made this event a great success was the MC Cameron Kapua-Morell from Upper Hutt City Council.  His energy and obvious passion for the White Ribbon kaupapa, kept the audience engaged and he uplifted the students when they required support.  The way Cameron blended the guests, speakers and students provided a very well rounded, entertaining and successful event.

A number of community leaders were present, including Mayor Campbell Barry, who opened the event, Deputy Mayor Tui Lewis, Councillors, community group leaders and White Ribbon Ambassadors.

White Ribbon is extremely grateful to E Tù Te Awakairangi for organizing this fantastic event to spread the kaupapa and build greater community connections in their ongoing efforts to prevent violence. If you were involved in a great community event we would love to hear about it and profile it in future newsletters. Please write to us at to share your stories and photos.

White Ribbon Riders Welcomed onto Parliament’s Forecourt

At the conclusion of this year’s White Ribbon Ride, about 20 Riders joined White Ribbon on Parliament’s forecourt to highlight the serious challenges we face as a nation in tackling our woeful domestic violence statistics and share the solutions they have been presenting to schools and communities around New Zealand.

Chief Ombudsman Judge Peter Boshier, Deputy Police Commissioner Wally Haumaha and head of the New Zealand Defence Force Air Marshal Kevin Short stood alongside the White Ribbon Riders to encourage men to express emotions to try and curb New Zealand’s high rate of domestic violence.

Chair of the White Ribbon Campaign Trust and Lower North Island Ride Leader Takurua Tawera noted that we need to ensure men know it is ok to be sad or angry we just need to know how to manage those feelings. It is that issue that was at the heart of this year’s campaign, which focused on challenging the unspoken rules, outdated stereotypes of masculinity that push boys and men to bottle up their emotions as they have been told that they should “harden up” and that “boys don’t cry”. It is so important to be able to express our emotions and process them in a healthy way, so that we can enjoy positive respectful relationships. We need to change how we talk to boys and re-evaluate the messages we received in our youth to ensure we don’t perpetuate these negative stereotypes about what it is to be a man.

Representing the New Zealand Police Mr Haumaha commented “It is a sad indictment that we have to turn up to family harm incidents every four minutes. It is a sad indictment that every one in three women across the country will experience some form of family harm in the course of their lives. It is a sad indictment that 14 women are killed each year as a result of partner abuse.”

Winner of the White Ribbon Spoken Word Competition for High School students Hannah Dorey performed her heartfelt poem drawing parallels between the experience of drowning and an abusive relationship. Her moving performance was described by Air Marshal Short as a “powerful reminder of the pain family violence causes” and he urged all those present to work together to deal with the problem.

Judge Boshier thanked the Riders for spreading the message in such “a clear, unequivocal way.”