Frightening Australian statistics should reinforce the need to promote healthy masculinity in New Zealand

Media Release
15 November


42% of young men in Australia do not consider punching and hitting constitute domestic violence, while 43% do not consider frightening, humiliating, degrading or punishing a person as domestic violence.

“This is shocking”, says White Ribbon Manager Rob McCann. “While we don’t have a similar study in New Zealand, Police data for the year to August show that women make up 90% of those violently assaulted by a partner or ex, and 98.6% of those sexually assaulted by a partner or ex and we have the highest rate of reported violence towards women in the developed world.”

“Violence in our communities remains appallingly high and if we are to tackle this violence we need to focus on the attitudes that enable young men to think violence is ok and that trap them in the man box,” said Mr McCann.

Women’s Refuge CE Dr Ang Jury agrees. “We are seeing consistently high numbers of women and families taking refuge from violent men. As a country we need to take this opportunity and look at the causes of the violence. If we want to have a courageous discussion, then let’s talk about what constitutes masculinity and ensure our young men are being supported to grow up with healthy attitudes about masculinity that support respectful relationships.”

“The reality is that until we overwrite the ideas that allow men to think they can humiliate, degrade or use physical violence against anyone, we will continue to see outrageous numbers of women forced to use refuges throughout New Zealand”, said Dr Jury.

The #Outdated Campaign asks men to speak up about the #Outdated ideas they hear and the image they feel pressured to replicate.

“This November we want to highlight behaviour that exemplifies healthy masculinity,” says Mr McCann, “and in doing so we will challenge the #Outdated. The campaign demonstrates how we can overwrite unhealthy ideas and replace them with inclusive and healthy attitudes.

Healthy masculinity is about being kind, empathetic, finding peaceful resolutions to problems. It is about boys and men being confident in who they are without feeling pressure to be a certain type of boy/man.”

“To take part in the campaign simply have a conversation with your children, your friends, colleagues or your partner about #Outdated ideas, share the free online content or visit to find out more and help change how we see masculinity in Aotearoa,” said Mr McCann.




Healthy Masculinity looks like:

  • Healthy masculinity is rejecting unhelpful outdated stereotypes and unspoken rules about what it is to be a boy or man.
  • Healthy masculinity is about being kind, empathetic, 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’, and have ‘muscles’, be assertive, tough, love rugby, enjoy time with other men and boys, enjoy a ‘pint’ with the lads (for men!). But boys and men should also be free to express sad emotions, enjoy cooking, dancing, gardening and anything else that does not fit into gender stereotypes.
  • Healthy masculinity is treating everyone with respect.
  • Healthy masculinity is recognising that people express gender and sexuality in a variety of ways.


The Man Box

  • White Ribbon calls the expectations that men must always appear dominant, tough and in charge “The Man Box”.
  • It’s a box that’s prescriptive and restrictive. Any different behaviours are dismissed as being not manly.
  • Often a boy and a man will believe he needs to appear tough and in-control in front of other men. This is from a fear, real or not, that they’ll reject him, possibly violently, if he doesn’t fit in. Being told to ‘Man Up’ is to be reminded to get back into The Man Box. A man may use violence to show his peers he is manly.
  • Suppressing individual identities and diverse emotional responses is stressful. It’s also unhealthy as these men avoid asking for help.
  • Men who break out of The Man Box to choose their own masculine identity report that they’re less stressed, more satisfied with life and have happier relationships.


Australian Research

Conducted by Essential Research in Australia. Download age and gender results here

Are wolf whistles and being objectified OK?

White Ribbon supporter Anna McMartin was asked to put pen to paper and respond to the idea that being objectified is ok, as outlined by the New Zealand Herald’s dating columnist. It’s incumbent on adults to ensure that the advice we present to our young men and women, is advice that does not harm anyone.

NZ Herald Dating columnist explains why she likes wolf whistles and being objectified. November 2020

Feeling sexy and desired, whatever that means to you, is pretty damn good. So I reckon Jana Hocking has a point. Me? I love a glossy lipstick and my knee high boots. And I’m a sucker for a bloke who appreciates my brain – then moves along to all the other parts of me. Each to their own.

Like Jana, my sense of humour sometimes raises eyebrows. Life experience has taught me to pause before I bust out my smuttier nuggets of comedy gold. I’ll spare you the details. Let’s just say that there are some jokes you don’t want your ten year old repeating at their Catholic primary school.

But not every sexual conversation I’ve been part of has been funny, or comfortable, or wanted. And I know I’m not the only one who feels that way.

Here’s an example. I used to work in an organisation where a senior manager had a reputation. He was a toucher, an ogler, a teller of dirty jokes. The junior staff warned each other about him.

One day he sidled up to me, maneuvering himself between my desk and the shelf that separated me from the shop floor. Breathing heavily and leaning over me, he began to speak in hushed tones.

He’d tried this trick before: approached when there weren’t many workmates around, made a dirty joke, got an uncomfortable response. Worried he’d offended me, he’d turned to a male colleague. That colleague told him not to worry, that I’m a bogan with a sense of humour (guilty as charged). And that, apparently, made it OK.

So this second time, feeling like he had the green light, the senior manager moved his face towards mine. He murmured as he stared at me a story, about a woman who had propositioned him, the sex act she wanted to perform. I remember feeling skin-crawling revulsion.

Sometimes, you don’t know what to say. A frosty hate-stare just has to do. Later, when I’d gathered my thoughts, I turned to workmates. They said with resignation, that’s what he’s like. There’s no point complaining. He does it to all the young women. Maybe if you swear at him he’ll take his ‘jokes’ and go away.

And that’s the thing. The senior manager who leaned over me that day, he thought he was having a joke too. He couldn’t see – or maybe didn’t want to – that he was the only one laughing.

So what’s the difference between this senior manager’s jokes, and the bawdy fun that Jana has with her mates?

It’s pretty obvious, right? The difference is consent. If we’re mates, if we trust one another and know each others’ boundaries, then why not? Crack out the chardonnay and Metallica’s Black album: this bogan with a sense of humour will tell you smutty jokes until sundown.

But if that’s not the relationship we have, if that’s not OK for you, then I won’t. It’s not my business to decide what jokes you should laugh at. Instead, I’ll think how I can show my respect for you, just like I hope you’ll do for me. I’ll try to figure out the kind of stuff that makes you feel respected and valued.

‘Consent’ sounds like a very serious word, but making someone feel respected and valued is all it really boils down to. Over a spreadsheet at work, or between the sheets afterwards, consent feels pretty damn good.

Don’t think that consent sounds sexy or cool or fun? All I can say is this: just check out your gross, heavy-breathing, ‘joke’ telling colleague, leaning his female workmates’ desks.

Anna McMartin



This White Ribbon Day Challenge your #Outdated ideas or the #outdated concepts we’re sometimes pressured to conform to. We’ve all heard these phrases and this November we want to highlight behaviour that exemplifies healthy masculinity, and in doing so we will challenge the #Outdated. Healthy masculinity is about being kind, empathetic, finding peaceful resolutions to problems. It is about boys and men being confident in who they are without feeling pressure to be a certain type of boy/man. This campaign continues our focus on Respectful Relationships which are built on equality between women and men, the effective use of non-violent communication, flexible gender behaviour for men and women and respectful sexual relationships, which includes consent.


Win morning tea for your team!

We know that 2020 has been extremely challenging for everyone and we just wanted to say thank you to all those community groups, businesses, government departments and individuals who have found ways to spread the kaupapa this year.

With the absence of the full White Ribbon Ride, there has been a shift in focus. There are still some big events planned, but there has been an increase in smaller events. We have also seen a growth in competitions, which are a really fun way to get people involved without having to attend large public gatherings. We know of a t-shirt design competition for youth in the Wairarapa, and a high school art competition, which led to the creation of some beautiful artworks incorporating the White Ribbon.

We want to hold a competition of our own to thank all our amazing supporters. To enter, organise an opportunity for your team to get together and discuss the #outdated stereotypes, list your event on our website, take a photo of the event or your White Ribbon display, and send it through to us at to go in the draw to win morning tea for your team from White Ribbon. For ideas of events you could organise, and information on this year’s campaign please download “What your organisation can do to support White Ribbon in 2020” here. You can order White Ribbon resources from our online store, posters and flyers are free.

Entry details:

  1. Organise an opportunity for your team to get together to discuss the #Outdated stereotypes. (This can be any kind of event you choose. If you would like a White Ribbon Ambassador to come and speak please get in touch and we will help to organise that.)
  2. List it on our Events page ( just add Private to events that are not open to the public)
  3. Send through photos of your event or your White Ribbon display to (Please write Competition – North Island or Competition – South Island in the subject line)

Terms and Conditions:

There will be one North Island and one South Island winner. Morning tea will be provided for up to 20 people. There will be a large cake for the runner up in the North Island and the South Island. Entries close on 10 December (the end of the 16 days of action against gender-based violence). The competition will be judged by the campaign team and announced on 14 December. The judges decision is final.

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No Beer for a Year Fundraiser

White Ribbon is thrilled to be one of three beneficiaries of an innovative fundraising campaign by Ben Karl that seeks to raise awareness of New Zealand’s binge drinking culture.

Born and raised in Rotorua and now studying engineering science at University in Auckland, sports fan Ben found himself reflecting on the heavy drinking he was doing each weekend and decided it was time to stop and highlight the issue of New Zealand’s drinking culture and the impact it is having on individuals, families and communities. Ben noted: “After waking up one morning, hungover, I found myself reflecting on the past couple of years of my life. Since when did buying two boxes each weekend become routine? Why is this kind of behaviour considered so normal in New Zealand? Why is it that minimal concern has been expressed for my mental and physical health? At that moment, I knew something had to be done to spread awareness around this issue.”

Ben loves to help others and decided that it was time to tick a fundraiser off his personal bucket list. He chose to support the Salvation Army because of the drug and alcohol support they offer and their broader community support in these challenging times. Both White Ribbon and the Gumboot Friday charity were chosen as Ben believes domestic violence and depression are closely related to alcohol abuse. A lot of his close friends and family have been victims of domestic violence and have had mental health problems too, so the ambitions of both charities are something that he is really passionate about.

Ben’s goal is to raise awareness around this issue. He wants New Zealanders to confront the issue of alcohol abuse in our society and reflect on our own alcohol use. Ben asks: “Is it healthy? Are you affecting yourself or others as a result of it? Maybe take a weekend off the booze to enjoy the more beautiful things in life and chuck your booze money in the givealittle if you want to, it is for a good cause.” We certainly concur!

We are really grateful to Ben for his support of White Ribbon’s kaupapa and for the much-needed funds that will help us to continue to work to prevent violence. If you have an idea for a fundraiser, please get in touch ( we would love to see how we can help.

Spreading the kaupapa in the Wairarapa – White Ribbon Ambassador Mark Shepherd and his family

Our Ambassadors are at the core of our efforts to prevent violence against women. Today we’d like to introduce one of our hardworking team Mark Shepherd, who lives in the Wairarapa and has made sharing the White Ribbon kaupapa part of his everyday life.

Mark became an Ambassador after he and his wife Tracey became had been involved with the White Ribbon Ride. They both found speaking at schools and with other groups and hearing others experiences really rewarding. We are so grateful to Mark for the huge amount he does in the community. Since he became an Ambassador in 2018, Mark has been a mentor for local Youth Ambassadors and has also taken on the leadership of his local Ambassador cluster.

One of the many reasons Mark connects so well with people who are struggling is that he can relate. Mark’s father died when he was 15 years old and soon after he left home. At age 17, he became a father himself. He drank heavily and was sometimes violent, though not towards women, and has since learnt that frustrations and a lack of confidence played a huge part in those years where he felt he had no other options. Realising he would lose all contact with his then two sons if he didn’t change, led Mark to move away from the alcohol scene when he was 25.

In the intervening years Mark met Tracey, who he describes as “an amazing lady who has, over the last 32 years, helped me see that making bad decisions does not necessarily make you a bad person and that with the right guidance and support you can get your life back on track.” Mark clearly sets a fantastic example in the community and for his own family of three sons and five grandchildren.

Mark’s middle son Jamie is a keen motor sport enthusiast and has also recently shown his commitment to the kaupapa by adding the White Ribbon logo to his Burnout car. He works with Mark in their family-owned Property Maintenance business. Both put family first and make it a priority to take time out to enjoy school sports days to support Jamie’s kids.

One of the main issues Mark is concerned about is the tendency to lock perpetrators away without addressing the issues that led to them becoming violent. It is not about excusing the behavior but if we don’t want the cycle to continue we need to intervene and support perpetrators to change.

While COVID-19 has hampered local plans for a White Ribbon Community Day this year, Mark, Tracey and other local Riders will be visiting the Masterton Boxing Academy in October to share their experiences next month. Mark has some fantastic advice to share: “we as NZ males need to drop the Macho image and ‘ASK FOR HELP’ when we need to. Showing emotion does not make us weak, it makes us human.”

If you know someone who would make a great Ambassador or if you’re keen to take on the role yourself, please contact us ( to find out more. Ambassador nomination forms can be downloaded from our Ambassador page.

Annual Family Violence Intervention Study Day 2020 – Wednesday 28 October

For those of you based in Auckland, Kathy Lowe at Auckland DHB has kindly shared the information below about their upcoming Annual Family Violence Intervention Study Day. They have some fantastic speakers and are covering topics we know will be of interest to many of you. If you would like to know more please contact the Family Violence Intervention team using the details below.

Annual Family Violence Intervention Study Day 2020

Wednesday 28th October 2020

0845 to 1615hrs

Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences,

Lecture Theatre 505.007

(Across the road from Auckland City Hospital)


TIME Topic Speaker Details
0845 – 0900 Introductions
0900 – 0945 FVDRC 6th Report Pauline Gulliver Findings and recommendations of the FVDR 6th Report on men who use violence.
0945 – 1045 Personal narrative Rata Korewha My journey to becoming non-violent
1045 – 1115  Morning Tea                                                                                                                    
1115 – 1215 Gandhi Nivas Ranjna Patel Where can men go when they are removed from the home?
1215 -1300 Men’s groups Kara Dee Morden Four theoretical frameworks used in men’s groups.
1300 – 1345 LUNCH
1345 – 1445 Family violence perpetrators.  Existing evidence and new directions Dr Bronwyn Morrison Exploring people’s pathways to violence, initial treatment experiences, lifetime treatment dose, and what was/was not useful about treatment.
1445 – 1530 Mental health slot Dr David Codyre Safe man safe family psychiatrist.  How does family violence create ongoing life challenges?
1530 – 1545


1545 – 1610 What can health do now?
1610 – 1615 Close
Close 1615


For more information contact the Family Violence Intervention team at:


The 2020 Virtual White Ribbon Ride.

The 2020 White Ribbon Ride is cancelled. Instead a series of local rides are occuring. These will be joined together and be called The 2020 Virtual White Ribbon Ride.

Under normal circumstances the White Ribbon Riders travel throughout New Zealand spreading the non violence kaupapa and promoting the annual November campaign. It’s an exciting initiative where riders who look rough and ride powerful bikes, talk about Respectful Relationships and solutions to tackling this country’s crippling domestic violence record. Violence destroys families, sets our children on a destructive journey and affects one in three women. Usually this week-long motorcycle tour happens every November – White Ribbon Month, and is a powerful and inspirational voyage for all involved.

This year with the threat of COVID19 we are holding local rides to ensure we keep our population and riders as safe as possible. That means that the lead riders will not be steering a convoy through towns in the North and South Islands, picking up support riders in every region along the way. Instead local riders will be supporting local White Ribbon Riders and local organisations to attend local events as the White Ribbon Riders.

How to support the 2020 Virtual White Ribbon Ride:

1. Register your event online

2. Contact White Ribbon ( and we can see if we can provide a local Rider or Ambassador and White Ribbon resources to support your event.

3. No event in your area – why not create your own White Ribbon Event at your school, workplace or community. Click here for details.

4. Your event will be added to our Virtual Ride Map.

5. Share your photos/videos from your event on socials or stories tag in Facebook with the #whiteribbonride2020

When you put up a global post with the hashtag #whiteribbonride2020, the campaign team are able to local the post and share this.

This year we will be encouraging local riders to join with a local White Ribbon Rider to support local events and continue to raise awareness in your town or city. To find out more about how to organise an event, read this document.


Brendan Pyper’s song “You Call Yourself A Man”

Singer songwriter Brendan Pyper has kindly shared his song “You Call Yourself A Man” with us. Brendan began studying music at Wintec when he was 23 and was then part of the band The Latest Fallout. Now aged 32 and based in Auckland, he is recording as a solo artist.

This very personal song took him a long time to release. It was written 4 years ago when his mum was still in a relationship with her abusive partner. For many reasons, including her safety, he decided to wait to record and share it. His mum had been with her abuser since he was a teenager and the way he treated Brendan and his mum led him to move out and live with his girlfriend at a young age as he didn’t want to be in that environment.


After almost two decades Brendan’s mum left her abusive husband with the support of her sons and is starting to rebuild her life. When he finally played the song for her she said “I love that. You should’ve gone harder.”

Brendan approached White Ribbon with his powerful song as he wants to help others who are struggling. Please share it and the message that violence is never okay and respect is at the heart of a healthy relationship. For more of Brendan’s songs or to get in contact you can find him on Facebook.  If you want more information about healthy relationships, please take a look at our toolboxes.

The impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on domestic violence in New Zealand

One of our wonderful White Ribbon Ambassadors Mele Wendt MNZM was invited to speak about domestic violence in New Zealand with a particular focus on the impact of COVID-19 in a webinar jointly presented by UN Women Aotearoa New Zealand and the United Nations Association of New Zealand and Wellington. We are delighted to be able to share this link to the webinar if you missed the opportunity to take part on the 23rd of June. The webinar was really informative and featured four fantastic speakers Mele, Dr Ang Jury (Chief Executive of Women’s Refuge), MP Jan Logie (Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister of Justice -Domestic and Sexual Violence Issues) and Superintendent Eric Tibbott (NZ Police).

Dr Jury highlighted some of the challenges Refuges faced and the ways they adapted to the lockdown. While she was happy to make observations about what occurred Dr Jury noted that the true impact on women and children will only emerge over time. She is very concerned about the effect of a recession coming on the heels of the lockdown, describing it as the “perfect incubator for family violence.”

MP Jan Logie was very positive about the response to COVID-19 locally, calling it “the best example of government and community partnership she’s seen.” The government response was shaped by research based on the overseas experience and previous New Zealand crises like the Christchurch earthquakes. They wanted to ensure there was clear communication that help was available, that Family Violence was still being taken seriously and that financial support was accessible.

Superintendent Eric Tibbott provided a lot of information about changes in the way NZ Police are responding to domestic violence call outs. He acknowledged the value of international research that demonstrates that there are usually multiple episodes of family violence before a person reaches out to police. They are now focused on getting officers to think beyond the incident and focus on identifying underlying stressors and contributors to help prevent harm. Superintendent Tibbott noted a UN population fund report which predicts a twenty percent increase in family violence across its member states as a result of COVID-19 and its impact globally. In light of these dire warnings it was really positive to hear that the helpline Hey Bro saw a significant increase in people reaching out for support during the lockdown.

Mele Wendt MNZM spoke about the key drivers of violence, her own experiences of domestic violence as well as White Ribbon’s kaupapa and COVID-19 campaign to try to provide sensible suggestions to keep people safe. Mele emphasized the importance of reaching out for help, contacting the Police and advocated strongly for greater resourcing to support perpetrators to change their behaviour.

With the current community transmission of COVID-19 and the return to the Level 3 restrictions in Auckland the thoughts of the speakers on the impact on domestic violence are especially relevant at this time.


Judge Ajit Swaran Singh, White Ribbon Ambassador, advocates for zero tolerance of family violence on Apna TV

Auckland District Court Judge Ajit Swaran Singh recently featured in a programme focused on family violence for Hindi television channel Apna TV. Judge Singh has been a vocal champion of violence prevention for many years and is one of White Ribbon’s longest standing Ambassadors.
It is so important for ethnic communities in New Zealand to hear anti-violence messages from community leaders in their own languages. We are extremely grateful to Judge Singh and Apna TV for highlighting the issue.  The interview is predominantly in Hindi, but the White Ribbon message is also in English and begins at 12:20 on the recording.
Born and raised in Fiji, Judge Singh completed his legal qualifications (LLB & LLM Honours) at Victoria University in Wellington. He also graduated with Doctor in Civil Laws (DCL) from the Institute of Comparative Laws, McGill University based in Montreal, Canada. He was admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor at the High Courts of Fiji, New Zealand and Australia.
Judge Singh became the first Fiji-born Indian to be appointed to the District Court Bench in New Zealand. He was sworn in as a Judge in Manukau, Auckland, on Diwali Day, 4 November 2002. Since 2012, Judge Singh presides at the Auckland District Court.

Judge Singh is the recipient of numerous national and international awards for his outstanding achievements in the field of public service, including Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award presented by the President of India and Kiwi Indian Hall of Fame Award presented by Sir John Key (NZ Prime Minister at the time). He regularly speaks at the EthnicA Conferences and community forums on cultural issues concerning family violence/child abuse/mental health/bullying in schools and racially motivated crimes, particularly as such issues affect the immigrant & refugee communities.
For many years Judge Singh has been involved with community education on family violence issues, particularly for recent refugee and migrant groups, youth and senior citizens. Judge Singh’s long-term commitment to violence prevention and spreading the White Ribbon kaupapa is truly inspirational.  If you would like to nominate someone in your community to become a White Ribbon Ambassador please click here.