The Secret Keeper

We are excited to be working with Catherine Daniels to shine a light on her exhibition The Secret Keeper that we know will have an important impact on community understanding of the issues of childhood trauma and sexual abuse throughout New Zealand. The exhibition has already been shown in Palmerston North and Whanganui, and has provoked powerful responses in viewers from those communities.

After its initial exhibition in Whanganui at the Community Arts Centre, Russell Simpson the Chief Executive of Whanganui DHB invited Catherine to take The Secret Keeper to the hospital to help staff and public gain more awareness about childhood trauma and sexual abuse. A number of clinical psychologists have commented on how valuable the exhibition was both for their clients and for themselves in gaining a deeper understanding of the lived experience of complex trauma.

On the 21st of October the exhibition is opening in Wellington at the Exhibitions Gallery of Fine Art (20 Brandon Street) and we urge you to go along and see it in person. After Wellington, it is heading to Napier where it will be shown at the Community Arts Centre from the 18th March through to the 7th April.

It is extremely hard to talk about trauma and abuse and one story Catherine shared really resonated with us. She said: “My husband and I had been married for nearly eight years before my secrets made me sick enough, that I couldn’t hold them in any longer. When I opened up to him about my childhood sexual abuse, he struggled to cope. It was easier for him to shut his anger down and say all that stuff is grey. I don’t do grey. I only do black and white. He shut it out for over 25 years. We never spoke about it and when we did it caused a lot of pressure on everyone. When I made the first girl sitting on her suitcase with a small teddy bear beside her, I brought it inside to show him. He said “what’s that?” I told him it was me as a little girl and read him out a small piece of writing I had written. He just looked at it staring as if he could finally see what had been hidden inside of me all those years. That was the light bulb moment for him and the start of The Secret Keeper for me. Showing my husband what was hidden inside of me as something tangible that he could see and talk about was like pulling a plug out of a dam we had both built up. For the next five years, emotions flooded out as we talked about every sculpture and read each piece of writing. These sculptures and their story have shown him an entirely different way. He has completely changed and is now able to see and think in grey, not just black and white.”

The age range of people visiting has been from 4 years old to over 90. Many have opened up for the first time. One elderly lady visited and talked about her childhood trauma. Catherine recalled: “The next day she returned and waited to speak with me. She handed me her journal with a pencil drawing of two faces. The first face had stitches covering the mouth. The second face, the mouth was open with no stitches, but tears of red blood were around the mouth and dripping down the face. She talked with me some more and said ‘thank you for taking the stitches off my mouth, but there is still pain and hurt inside’. I handed back her journal and felt the power of her drawing and the conversation it had started.” Catherine also spoke about a small girl who looked at one of the sculptures with many faces inside her tummy and turned to her mother and said to her ‘see mummy I told you I had them in my tummy just like that little girl’

Originally the exhibition contained 49 sculptures, but they keep growing. Catherine has created 7 new sculptures for Wellington that haven’t been exhibited before. There will also be some sculptures for sale at the Wellington exhibition. Catherine has worked with a team of creatives who have provided vital support and who have brought their own skills to help share Catherine’s story and make it accessible in a range of formats.

Catherine has created a book that brings her words and sculptures together. It is both beautiful and extremely moving. The Secret Keeper has been published by Joan Rosier-Jones and Gayelene Holly of Tangerine Publications. They have been such an important part of Catherine’s journey. From the first day Catherine met with Joan, she talked with her and supported her every week over a five-year period to help get all Catherine’s childhood trauma written down on paper.

Award-winning photographer Esther Bunning is also a vital part of the team. She has made a new range of prints featuring Catherine’s sculptures for Wellington and for the first time a limited edition range. Esther’s work is organic and emotive, and adds another level of humanity to the work. She helps people view the world a little differently than what they’re used to, with her creative use of in-camera techniques and a love of unconventional storytelling. Using her visual voice to make a difference, or bring awareness for those who can’t speak for themselves is something she is passionate about. There is also a video that plays at every exhibition made by Terry Hann that shows some beautiful images of the girls in the studio and being made.

These sculptures enabled Catherine to portray her emotions and trauma in something tangible that others could see and start to understand. “The power my husband and I have found in turning my emotions into the writing and these sculptures has had a huge impact on our own lives and the lives of others”.

We asked Catherine if she had anything she wanted to say to the White Ribbon community and this is her response: “The Secret Keeper project is the most powerful thing I have ever done. There are so many different ways to deal with trauma, violence isn’t one.”

The book, photographs, sculptures and box sets are available on the website. Catherine has generously given us three box sets to give away over the next three weeks. If you would like to go in the draw to win one of the sets below all you need to do is follow this link, like it and share it on your social media page. Then please send a screen shot to either or message White Ribbon on FB to go into the draw. One box set wlil be drawn each week.

Share Your Story Of Change

click the button below to upload your story of change


Gathering of Stories
This year as part of the White Ribbon Campaign we want to collect stories of change to help shine a light on what works in violence prevention in our communities. We know there are many people who have really inspiring stories of change and redemption that could help people who are currently trapped in abusive, violent and unhealthy relationships. We want to know how you coped, where you got the support, and the tools that helped to change your situation. We want to hear from both former perpetrators and survivors.

We want to make it as easy as possible to take part, so there are a range of ways you can get involved and share your story. Our White Ribbon Riders are travelling the South Island and will collect stories in person, so you can attend a local event and take part that way. You can use Messenger on Facebook to share your story with us privately, either in text or by video. You can post to your own Facebook page and use the hashtag #WRstoriesofchange or #ShineALight. You can click the button above that allows you to upload videos, images and documents, and of course you can always send us your story by email to

We want to share your stories with the wider community so, however you get in touch, please tell us whether you give permission for your story to be shared, and if so, whether you are happy for your name to be used, or whether you would prefer to be anonymous. Either is absolutely fine and we realise it is sometimes not safe or appropriate to provide your details. Please share this invitation with people you know who might want to take part. As always, we are so grateful to the White Ribbon community for standing up, speaking out and acting to prevent violence. It really does make a difference.

You can find out more about this year’s campaign here.

Judge Singh’s poem for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

White Ribbon Ambassador Judge Ajit Swaran Singh delivered the poem below to two Auckland community groups to mark World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Judge Singh has long been a vital advocate for violence prevention and we are thrilled to be able to share his poem with you. It is especially relevant this year as we begin to work with groups that have been historically marginalised, including the elderly. The original text is in Hindi (using the English alphabet) and the English translation is in brackets below.



World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

12 June 2021        Bharatiya Samaj

19 June 2021        Shanti Niwas

Edited version: 


Viswah ke buzurgo joh hai zurm ke sikaar

(World’s Elders who are victims of abuse)

Jaankari mileh woonhe kya hai woon ka adhikaar

(Need to be made aware of their rights)

Ishwar kripa kare woonhe kabhi koi dukh nah pahuchaye

(Pray no one ever abuses our Elders)

Nah hum jurm kare, jurm sahe kar nah chup rahe, jurm dekh hum jurm ke khilaf awaaz uthaye

(Never commit elder/family violence nor condone it or remain silent when you witness elder/family violence)


Sharirik ho yah mansik, jurm burzurgo par gambhir dukh pahuchaye

(Whether physical or psychological, abuse inflicts serious harm/trauma on our Elders)

Paisa loote, tana mare, ana jana par pabandhi lagai aur pidhith (पीड़ित’) ko rahat na dilwaye

(Financial abuse, verbal abuse, restrictions on social interactions and/or failure to provide necessaries of life/treatment)

Aise ghatia harkatoh koh hum zurm kahelaye

(Such inhumane conduct constitutes abuse)

Jo buzurgo par kare atyachar

(Those who commit abuse on Elders)

Hum sab mil kar badleh woon ka ghatia soch aur bichaar

(Our responsibility is to change/rehabilitate perpetrators inhumane conduct/mindset)

Prayaas kare: buzorgo ke saath hum insaniyat darshai

(We should treat Elders in a humane way)

Woon ke saath ijjat aur prem ka rishta hum sada nibhai

(Our relationship with our Elders should be one of mutual respect & affection)

Hum woonhe khusiyah deh beshumaar

(We should give them infinite happiness)

Woon ko hum deh azzadi aur anant pyar

(From us, they deserve independence & infinite love)

Har lambhe woon ke chehere par ho muskaan

(May eternal smile adorn their faces)

Maast ho kar weh chumeh sitaro seh jagmagati hui aasman

(Joyfully, may they embrace/kiss star studded sky)

Tabhi puri hogi hamare buzurgo ka armaan

(Only then would their aspirations be fulfilled)

Saraahane (सराहनीय) hai woon ka balidan

(Commendable is their sacrifice)

Anmol hai woon ka yogdan

(Invaluable is their contributions/legacy)

Uttam parvarish ke liyeh hum par hai woon ka ehasaan

(For the wonderful way in which they have nurtured us, we are ever so grateful & indebted)

Hamare purvajo se hame mili hai bahoot maan aur shaan

(To our Elders, we owe our success & fame)

Kush kishmat walo ko hi milti hai itna anmol daan

(Fortunate ones are blessed with such invaluable gift)

Aaj hamare kaamyadi par hai woon ka ashirwaad

(For our achievements, we have their blessings)

Au hum sab mil kar tehe dil se woon ko deh hardik dhanyawaad.

(Together, let us acknowledge our Elders with heartfelt gratitude & appreciation)


सूभाग़ और अजित

Subhag Singh &

Dr Ajit Swaran Singh

District Court Judge

White Ribbon Ambassador

Challenging #outdated ideas can make a real difference

One thing that has been particularly powerful in the White Ribbon campaign over the past two years is the strength of the youth voices who have taken part. It is so important that we listen and learn from their experiences.

Charlie Simpson shared a powerful story last year that we really want to highlight. He spoke about a foster child who joined his family and the impact of his upbringing on his interaction in the family at the beginning. It is sad to hear there are still children being exposed to #outdated ideas like “men should be the boss” and “boys don’t cry” and learn about the impact those ideas have on a child.

However, the most powerful part of Charlie’s story is the change that occurred when his foster brother joined their family and saw new positive attitudes and ways of expressing his feelings. It highlighted the potential for change. We are not stuck with #outdated ideas and #unspoken rules. We can change and our kids will adapt. His story really emphasized the importance of being good role models for our kids.

If an idea is no longer fit for purpose, it is time to find a better way. No parent is perfect. We all have the potential to be better and do better with our kids. It is great to hear of an example of that capacity for change and it is clear that the young boy in the story will have a future with healthier relationships now that those #outdated ideas have been discarded for ones that support respectful relationships, where partners treat each other as equals and can openly express their emotions.

We have a number of toolboxes that may be helpful and while some like “Raising boys who respect”, mention a specific gender in their title they are appropriate for both girls and boys.

Youth Ambassador Leadership Programme in Christchurch

The Youth Ambassador Leadership Programme (YALP) is being held at Christ’s College on Friday 24 September from 9am-3pm and aims to give students the information about family violence and respectful relationships, and encourage students to find their own way of communicating this information 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 some ownership of this issue if we want to see real change in Aotearoa.

Speakers include:


Richie Hardcore, educator, keynote speaker and activist, working in violence prevention, masculinities, mental health and wellness.

Richie is also a retired multiple New Zealand Muay Thai champion, and now works as a coach and personal trainer, having helped some of New Zealand’s most successful fighters achieve their goals. With a fighting career that spanned more than 20 years, he was paid to punch people in the face. These days, that energy is channelled towards Richie’s big mission – to help make the world better by supporting people to live their best lives. He’s spent time as a community worker in drug and alcohol harm reduction, is a campaigner against domestic and sexual violence, and a sexual consent educator. Richie is passionate about helping to overturn this country’s mental health statistics. An excellent public speaker, he’s also an experienced radio host and MC, using his skills to help educate, inspire and challenge.

Eteuati Ete (formerly of the Laughing Samoans)

Eteuati Ete is a comedian, actor, writer and theatre producer who has decided to use his profile and influence particularly amongst Maori and Pasefika to raise awareness of family harm by sharing his own story of family violence as a victim and a perpetrator. He and his wife Mele Wendt have over the last few years been sharing their lived experience of family violence, as presenters in the Nga Vaka Family Violence programme. They believe that “violence thrives in silence” and by speaking out they will encourage and embolden victims to find their own voice. They also provide practical advice on how they were able to eliminate the violence in their marriage. While Ete has been an actor for almost forty years who’s appeared in film, tv and theatre, having been one of the first Pasefika people to attend the New Zealand Drama School, he’s perhaps best known as one half of the highly successful Laughing Samoans comedy duo.

Mele Wendt MNZM, White Ribbon Ambassador

Mele Wendt has a past lived experience of family harm which she and her husband, Eteuati Ete, publicly speak about. Having survived a turbulent period over 20 years ago, they share the particular factors that enabled their marriage to become violence-free and to thrive. Professionally, Mele worked for 24 years in education – first as a secondary school teacher and then at Victoria University of Wellington as the founding Pacific Liaison Officer and the manager of the domestic student recruitment office. She then served ten years as the Executive Director of Fulbright New Zealand. In the past few years Mele has been serving on a number of boards (including Chair of the Pasifika Education Centre in Auckland) and providing consultancies in several areas. Mele is involved in a number of women’s organisations and Pacific community groups, including P.A.C.I.F.I.C.A., the national organisation for Pacific women. She is a strong advocate for and mentor to women and girls, especially in the Pacific community. Mele is Samoan and pakeha/palagi, and has lived in Wellington for over 30 years. With four grown children, she and Ete are doting grandparents of three grandchildren and recently Mele was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to governance, the Pacific community and women.

Rob McCann, White Ribbon Manager

Graduating from Otago University with a double degree majoring in law and drama, Rob has worked for both community organisations and commercial businesses as a manager, coordinator and leader and currently manages the White Ribbon anti-violence campaign. He’s also a first time councillor at the Kapiti Coast District Council. Rob has extensive experience as a speaker and presenter.



* Breakout sessions occur after each speaker.

Pre COVID, 30 schools and 240 students and staff attended the first full-day workshop with students reporting the event was ‘very engaging’, ‘should continue each year’, ‘thoroughly enjoyed the experience’, ‘would definitely attend in the future’ and ‘really enjoyed the day and learned a lot from it’.

• 86% felt the speakers helped them understand the causes of family violence
• 91% felt speakers helped them understand what a healthy relationship looks like
• 69% strongly agreed the speakers were engaging with a further 31% agreeing
• The workshop at the end of the day helped me come up with ideas of how to create change in my school or community (25% strongly agreed, 60% agreed, 13% neither agreed nor disagreed, and 2% disagreed).










The students also made some helpful suggestions which have been acted upon, such as more time for collaboration between students. This is now built into the programme with a reduced number of speakers and more post-session discussions. Three of these discussion sessions mix students from different schools together, while the final session is in school groups to brainstorm ideas that students can undertake to raise awareness, and highlight healthy relationships in their communities.
For more information on this year’s Youth Ambassador Leadership Programme click here.

  • Notes:
    The programme supports key messages from the Mates and Dates and Loves Me Not Programmes as evidence suggests that peer communication and multiple connections with anti-violence messages increase the chance of change.
  • Students will have the opportunity to learn about violence prevention and take a leadership role on the issue within their schools. As in previous years, we would prefer to focus on Year 12 and Year 13 students as they already have leadership roles within schools.
  • Schools that would like ongoing support will be assigned an adult White Ribbon Ambassador or staff member, to provide support for students and teachers involved in the programme.
  • The dress code is up to schools. Predominantly schools chose to send students in formal attire.
  • Schools that sent a teacher or support person found that this assisted their students, especially when it came to supporting the students to organise their activities when back at school.
  • Following the workshops, students have spread the kaupapa in their schools via a range of impressive activities including a spoken word competition.

How to Register

If you would like to register to be part of this programme in 2021 or would like further information, please contact or if you’d more course information from us and we will send out the registration forms.  There is no cost to participate in this programme as we do not want to create any barriers to participation, but we are very happy when schools allocate mufti days etc. to raising funds for our charity!

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.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact us at any time. We look forward to working with you to help prevent violence in our community.

Successful seminar for Whanganui Businesses

Jo Hodder, Tim Easton, Tim Metcalfe, Anna Campbell

White Ribbon Ambassador and Trustee Anna Campbell, who was our very first female Ambassador, travelled to Whangaui in June to present at a free seminar hosted by Jigsaw Whanganui, Whanganui Chamber of Commerce and Whanganui & Partners.

Anna works as chief people and transformation officer for Mitre 10. Jigsaw Whanganui executive officer Tim Metcalfe noted “Anna has vast experience in creating strategy that focuses on customer experience, workplace culture and organisation leadership. She is a powerful advocate for the critical role that all businesses can play in reducing the massive social harm caused by family violence.”

The session supported managers to understand their obligations under the Domestic Violence – Victim’s Protection Act, with particular focus on how domestic violence and its hidden costs can affect the workplace, and how businesses and managers can help by recognising, responding to and addressing the impacts of domestic violence on an employee. The event went incredibly well with 58 attendees from the business sector and Tim Easton  from Whanganui and Partners is keen to look at a pilot incentive programme to help a number of local businesses with White Ribbon’s Workplace Accreditation.

One of the organisers Jo Hodder, from Jigsaw Whanganui, described Anna as ‘an amazing presenter’ and noted the positive feedback from attendees. We are so grateful to Anna for taking time out of her busy schedule to spread the kaupapa in Whanganui. If you would like to learn more about White Ribbon Business Accreditation and how to assist employees who are experiencing family violence, please get in touch. To read the newspaper article about the event click here.

Eteuati Ete’s video

White Ribbon Ambassador and former member of the Laughing Samoans, Eteuati Ete shared his thoughts about two of the key messages in the Challenge the #Outdated campaign.

He reflected on ‘Children should be heard’ and the fact that he was often told to “sit down and shut up” as a child. The beautiful thing that theatre taught him was that he should “stand up and speak out”. He found his voice, and now he uses it to help share his story so that others can learn from his experiences. He notes that he doesn’t blame his father for that parenting approach, as his father used the tools that he had at the time. But now we know the effects of violence on children, and that the violence can become cyclical.

As an adult, Ete had a lot of baggage and he brought a lot of pain into his marriage. At the beginning, he thought he had to be the boss, but after ending up in court he realized that it was not viable moving forward. ‘Treat them equal’ really resonated with Ete who wanted to highlight how great it is to be in an equal loving relationship. He points out some young men are still receiving these “stone age beliefs”. By sharing his experiences, he hopes they will realise there is a better way.

Recently Eteuati Ete and his wide Mele Wendt have been sharing their story with young men and women attending the White Ribbon Youth Ambassador Leadership Programme, and will be speaking at the Christchurch YALP.


Christchurch Girls’ High School sexual abuse survey demonstrates the need for ‘primary prevention’.

 A survey of Christchurch Girls’ High School has revealed widespread sexual harassment with more than 400 students revealing they’ve been sexually assaulted and more than 20 saying they’ve been raped.

“As a country we need to support our young men to understand what Healthy Masculinity looks like,” says White Ribbon Manager Rob McCann, “and have a working comprehension of what Respectful Relationships involve, which includes understanding consent.”

“It is these concepts that can help provide a protection against the type of attitudes and behaviour, which enable young men to think it is ok to harass and harm women.

“While there has considerable focus on breaking the cycle of family violence, we need much more emphasis on combating the unhelpful messages about what it is to be a supposed ‘Real Man’.

“Our young men are still hearing unhelpful messages to ‘man up’, ‘that boys don’t cry’, ‘get pissed’ ‘be the man’, and to ‘toughen up’.

“Whether it’s societal pressures, peer pressure or learned behaviour, our young men are too often being asked to renounce the best of themselves and pretend to be something that fits the narrative of a ‘real man’.

“We need to have open and honest conversations about being a good person, and understand what healthy masculinity looks like and how that is a better option than outdated ideas. One way of achieving that is through education and inspiring our youth,” says Mr McCann.

White Ribbon offers a free programme to schools that focuses on consent, respectful relationships and encouraging healthy masculinity. The Youth Ambassador Leadership Programme (YALP) brings student leaders from schools across a region together for a full-day workshop to focus on these issues and how to intervene, respond and offer support. The Youth Ambassadors are then supported to share what they have learnt within their school community and help spark these conversations in their own schools and communities.


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.


Respectful relationships are based on:

  • Equality between men and women. Gender equity in personal relationships and all social spheres, reduces violence against women.
  • Flexible gender behaviour for all. Having men breaking out of the Man Box and choosing their own masculine identity prevents their use of violence.
  • Non-violent communication. Men being emotionally aware and expressive gives them alternatives to aggression.
  • Enthusiastic consent for all sexual activities. Having willing participation is crucial to preventing sexual violence.










White Ribbon also promotes adult men promoting the respectful behaviour of younger men. It also encourages men to be critical of pornography, especially the ways it promotes violence against women.

New research titled Shifting the line – Boys talk on gender, sexism and online ethics found:

Key points, findings and recommendations

• Some of our society’s key ideas for what it means to be a man give boys and young men a narrow and limiting model for how they should be and act in the world.

• Boys notice these ‘masculinity rules’ and the ways they are policed, but have few opportunities to talk about them, and few positive public models for how to sidestep narrow messages about what it means to be a man.

• The restrictive norms for masculinity, which were identified by boys across diverse social backgrounds and ethnicities, included the avoidance of anything ‘feminine’ and a very limited repertoire of emotions.

• Boys’ friendship groups, and the importance of peer group loyalty and belonging, were spoken about as powerful influences on behaviour, both in maintaining expected norms and in some cases in supporting departures from these norms.

• The powerful role of peer group norms suggests that effective strategies to promote positive change and ethical behaviour should seek to transform collective norms and action, rather than targeting individual behavioural change.

• Given the unhelpful, and in some cases dangerous, cultural baggage that traditional gender roles carry, we suggest it would be better to inspire boys and young men to be ethical people rather than ‘good men’.

• Paradoxically, it could seem, a first step in this direction requires noticing how gender structures the world and most people’s experiences and opportunities within it.

• Some boys and young men are interested in talking about these issues – and it is possible to create spaces that build on their curiosity and their commitment to fairness and equality, allowing them to critically reflect on gender norms and develop insights and skills that enhance their readiness to contribute to positive social change.


Opportunity to Contribute to New National Strategy to Eliminate Family Violence and Sexual Violence

Image from Te Puni Kōkiri

We would like to encourage you to take part in the current engagement process being undertaken by the Government to help inform the development of a national strategy to eliminate family and sexual violence. White Ribbon Riders are meeting with Takurua Tawera and Sue Rudman to have a workshop and White Ribbon Ambassadors are being asked to participate in an online hui that will be facilitated by White Ribbon Campiagn Manager Rob McCann. We hope that other members of the White Ribbon community will undertake the online survey or send an email or letter offering their thoughts and experiences to help shape this strategy that will guide future activities and investment in the sector.

The Government is seeking to partner with tangata whenua and work with communities impacted by family violence and sexual violence to create a new National Strategy and Action Plans to eliminate family violence and sexual violence in Aotearoa New Zealand.

As the Minister for the Prevention of Family and Sexual Violence Marama Davidson has said, Aotearoa New Zealand needs a fresh approach: “We have had too many reports over too many years that outline family violence and sexual violence, the problem we face, and describe what we need to change to address it.

“Off the back of these mounting reports I want to now bring us into a live discussion to develop a National Strategy and Action Plans.  This will provide a mandate for change and set out actions to help us move forward, together.”

Starting on May 12, engagement will commence around Aotearoa New Zealand, where people will be asked to consider what do you think needs to be in a National Strategy and Action Plans, from your communities’ point of view?

The Interim Te Rōpū developed and published Te Hau Tangata: The sacred breath of humanity envisioned as a strategy with a Te Aō Māori perspective, to be shared with everyone.  It is available as a key resource document for engagement, along with other engagement tools.

Engagement for the development of the national strategy ends on 30 June.  If your contributions are received by then, the government will be able to ensure that what you share informs the National Strategy and Action Plans which Cabinet will consider in September.

Who is engagement for?

Anyone can contribute their voice to the kōrero about what needs to be in the National Strategy.  There are four ways for people to contribute:

1.       Community-led hui
Government is working with communities to create opportunities for targeted, invitation only hui, led by trusted members of a community.  These are will provide a safe environment in which people can speak freely, and send their views back to the Government without being identified.

2.      Online survey

Anyone with an interest in contributing to the National Strategy and Actions Plans can do so by going to the safe government website Citizen Space and filling out the questionnaire.  There is also plenty of supporting information on this site for you to read if you wish.

3.       Email your submission
Send your contribution to  It can be a written contribution, a voice-recorded contribution, or recorded on video.

4.       Write a letter

Use the Freepost address provided by the Minister for the Prevention of Family and Sexual Violence, and your letter will be forwarded in confidence to the Joint Venture Unit for analysis.

Minister Marama Davidson
Freepost Parliament
Private Bag 18 888
Parliament Buildings
Wellington 6460 

What is the Joint Venture on Family Violence and Sexual Violence?

The Joint Venture is a collaboration of 10 government agencies working to eliminate family violence and sexual violence in Aotearoa New Zealand in partnership with Tangata Whenua and working with the family violence and sexual violence sectors.  The Joint Venture co-ordinates policy and funding advice, and reports to the Minister for the Prevention of Family and Sexual Violence. The Joint Venture Business Unit supports the government agencies to work together. The national strategy team in the unit which services the cross-agency collaboration will receive and work with independent advisors to analyse feedback from hui and online engagement on the National Strategy and Action Plans.

What feedback is the government asking for?

The government is asking for feedback about what needs to be done about family violence and sexual violence in Aotearoa New Zealand, and what needs to happen first. There are questions about what the National Strategy should include and what initiatives the Action Plans should prioritise.

The questions focus on a vision:

Our vision is for the end of family violence and sexual violence in Aotearoa New Zealand – so that people are safe, well, and thriving.”

The Joint Venture has also identified four principles:

  • “Oranga whānau
  • Mauri ora
  • Healthy relationships
  • Equitable and inclusive approaches”

and seven focus areas:

  • “Recognise te ao Māori
  • Bring government responses together
  • Recognise tangata whenua leadership and community-led approaches
  • Strengthen workforces to prevent and respond to family violence and sexual violence
  • Increase the focus on prevention
  • Develop ways for government to create changes
  • Enable continuous learning and improvement.”

The Joint Venture developed these from what they have learned from previous research, reports and conversations with people affected by and working in violence.

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Rick Hepi’s Video

One of our fantastic Ambassadors and White Ribbon Riders Rick Hepi shared some of his memories of growing up with a perpetrator of violence and the impact that it had on his life. After witnessing violence as a child Rick resolved never to treat a partner that way. He recalled the fear he and his sister felt when his father was violent and the difficulty he had in communicating with his dad, who could be emotionally and physically abusive. Later in life, Rick’s dad changed and became a great grandfather. Those experiences shaped how Rick raised his own family. He wanted to ensure that he was a good father from the start and not just a good grandfather. By showing his family he loved them and listening to his kids he stopped the cycle of abuse.


Show Them Who’s Boss? You Love Them

When kids hear this outdated advice, they’re getting an idea of manhood as being in control of their partners, family, even their friends. This can lead to men mistaking fear and intimidation for love and respect. The strongest relationships are those that respect the people in our lives as their own people. Particularly, it means not assuming there are set roles or rules that give men power over women. Showing that you care creates better relationships and teaches the behaviour you want your children to learn.

Boys and men are often handed down ideas of manhood that cast them as being ‘the boss’. Healthy relationships consist of equal partners not one person being in control of the other or the wider family. Being in a family or a relationship is not like being in a business or the army. Being in a family and a relationship is about communication, compromise, and compassion. Healthy masculinity is about sharing with others, challenging yourself to change, and being brave enough to recognise you don’t need to be in control. Relationships are not competitive power grabs where one person is dominant and takes charge, they require collaboration and respect to thrive.


Kids Should Keep Quiet Be Heard

When a kid asks a question, they’re reaching out to us to learn something. When a child engages in play, they are learning important skills that teach them how to behave in the world. When a child cries, they are asking for comfort. Kids ask us for attention because they are learning how to navigate the world and build relationships – they need to be able to speak and be heard, so they can learn and grow.

Children are naturally curious, but they are very sensitive to parental criticism. Without being able to speak and be listened to we can close down their views of themselves and what the world can offer them. Good advice is to listen to your kids, ask follow up questions, and engage them in some critical thinking. Show the boys in your life that it’s okay to cry and to be silly. Help to nurture those behaviours that will let your children lead a well-rounded, fulfilling, and open life.