White Ribbon congratulates the Warehouse Group

 Press Release


White Ribbon congratulates the Warehouse Group

White Ribbon congratulates The Warehouse Group for developing a comprehensive human resources policy around domestic and family violence.
“The violence that affects our communities and families also has a significant impact on businesses,” says Judge Boshier, chair of the White Ribbon Committee. “It is terrific news to see such a large employer step up and demonstrate the type of leadership required across all of New Zealand.”

The Glenn Inquiry estimated that the cost of dealing with child abuse and domestic violence is approximately $7 billion annually. The report also estimated that $1 billion is lost each year in workplace productivity because of abuse and violence such as lost wages and days off work.

“It’s clear that the impact of family violence weighs most heavily on the families and friends of those who are victims. But it is also indisputable that employers incur costs as well. We should use that information to encourage all employers to look at ways in which they can help address violence and support survivors.

“The announcement by the Warehouse Group is another positive step towards the elimination of domestic violence. It sends a strong signal that employers want to be part of the solution, and on behalf of White Ribbon, the Warehouse Group are to be thoroughly congratulated.”

• One in three women will experience partner violence at some point in their lives
• Less than 20 per cent of abuse cases are reported
• Over 3,500 convictions are recorded against men each year for assaults on women
• On average, 14 women a year are killed by their partners or ex-partners
• Police attend a family violence incident every 5 ½ minutes
• Family violence accounts for half of all reported serious crime
• In 2013 Police recorded 95,101 family violence instigations (provisionally 94,300 in 2014)

For all media enquiries contact:                                                                      
Rob McCann
White Ribbon Campaign Manager
04 297 2757 | Mobile  021 212 2953

take note – spoken word competition

take note trophies

take note trophies

The spoken word competition ‘Take Note’ was an event created for high school students to perform poetry that highlighted domestic violence. The event was held on Tuesday the 18th of November in Manukau, Auckland in the Gallery Council Civic Building.

The spoken word competition was an event chosen by the youth themselves using a survey taken at a White Ribbon breakfast in 2013. The competition provided a rare opportunity for the youth to speak up and share their perspectives on family violence.

School students performed pieces of poetry and the top three individuals were awarded trophies.

Take Note was the chosen name for the event, as it urges everyone to look at the problem of family violence in our society and to, take note. So while social worker Diana Vao organised the event it was important that the students played a central role said Diana as “the youth are going to be the new leaders of our society.”

“The youth of New Zealand are usually only seen, not heard” Diana said. And through this competition they were able to share what she thought was a “simplistic way of looking at the problem of family violence, and how to deal with it.”

Every contestant was a strong believer in standing up to family violence, and talking about this problem in a way that did not stigmatize anyone. The students faced the problem head-on; discussing subjects that they feel are usually ignored by the older generations.

“The students brought a freshness,” said Diana, “and a sense of innocence to the subject of family violence.”

There was an undeniable urgency behind the words and the competition introduced an innovative way of talking about family violence. There are already plans to run the event again in 2015.

And the winners were:

 Read the spoken word pieces on the next page

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Brother fights domestic violence

10344933John McGrath, brother to Patricia McGrath who was killed early in 2013 by her partner, has been campaigning around the Northland region. In July, John became a White Ribbon Ambassador in order to “plant the seed in [boys’] heads now” so that they can stop the damage of family violence before it begins. Patricia’s death affirms that male violence against women can be fatal and has a detrimental impact on many lives. Patricia’s family reached out to White Ribbon to help support our anti-violence message, to share Patricia’s story with others and to create awareness about violence against women.

Patricia was a 34 year old mother of two and a case worker at Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ). Her family describe as someone who was very caring and loved to help people; a wonderful and beautiful person. The loss of Patricia has been a huge blow to her family and friends, as well as the community as a whole. Patricia’s death affirms that male violence against women can be fatal and has a detrimental impact on many lives. The following article offers more information about Patricia: Click here to read more.


Brother fights domestic violence


The brother of a Northland woman who was killed by her partner is stepping up as the region’s first White Ribbon ambassador.

John McGrath has campaigned ferociously on behalf of domestic violence victims and their families, since the death of Patricia McGrath in January last year.

The mother-of-two died of a brain injury after she was punched in the face by partner Phillip Mahanga.

Mahanga is serving a three-year sentence for manslaughter.

McGrath’s first act as an ambassador was to urge students at Whangarei Boys’ High School to consider the seriousness of the country’s domestic violence problem.

“We never thought this was going to happen to us, but our family has had this disaster, and now we’re on a journey to change things and make them better,” he says.

“These boys will be men soon and some will even be parents soon. We need to plant the seed in their heads now. We’ll speak at every school in this country if we can – we need to bring these [domestic violence] stats down, especially in Northland.”

McGrath, who spoke alongside wife Kate McGrath, told the boys of how his “role model” sister changed once she entered a relationship with Mahanga.

He said she became increasingly isolated and withdrawn from family life, and started getting angry with her children “which was not who she was at all,” McGrath said.

“Usually we’d go around and we’d walk straight in and help ourselves to tea, but it started changing and she’d be waiting at the door – you’d know we weren’t welcome because he was there. He dominated her and isolated her, then he took control and at the end just killed her.”

McGrath told The Leader his sister’s death has changed the way he views the relationship between men and women.

“It’s definitely changed the way I look at men, especially Maori men – we once were warriors. When you think about a warrior, he is respectful, he has mana, he is noble. Our young men still have that pack mentality but none of that mana.”

He says this certainly doesn’t apply to all Maori men, and is the result of long-term oppression.

“Introduced religion has made [Maori] lose identity. We’ve got to come back to earth and realise man is not better than woman,” he says. “I don’t care if people run me down on that, because my heart is already broken and it can’t break any more. We’re not the ones who should have the life sentence.”

As a White Ribbon ambassador, McGrath joins a national and international network of men speaking out against violence towards women.

White Ribbon Day 2013 – Dr Jackie Blue

Jackie Blue

Jackie Blue is the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, former MP and mother of two girls

From the outside I had everything going for me. I was a young GP. I had great friends and a loving family. My boyfriend had just moved in with me.

But the reality was far from fairy tale. I will never forget the day that finally spurred me to call the Police. We’d been at a friend’s barbecue. It was something as small as people asking me about my job. That set him off. As we drove into our carport, he started hitting me as hard as he could. That was the last time.

For two years I was in a violent relationship. It wasn’t every week or every day. It was random and unpredictable. He’d belittle me and put me down. I felt too ashamed to ask for help. That was the great irony of my life. As a doctor, I was there to help people with their problems, but I couldn’t even help myself.

That’s the sad and brutal reality for too many women. Just over a week ago I joined with thousands of others to march against sexual violence in the wake of the Roast Busters scandal. Unfortunately, that case is not an isolated incident. As I was write this media are reporting that a woman was stabbed in Lower Hutt and a Northland man was convicted of 39 sex and violence charges spanning two decades.

One in three women will experience partner violence at some point in their lives. Only 20 per cent ever report it. This should not be tolerated. We have all the evidence and research. We know what works. We need action.

We have some excellent initiatives like the violence intervention programmes running in hospitals across the country. It is helping to reduce violence by aiming to screen all women aged 16 years and over for family violence and making sure those who disclose get the support they need.

Dr Kim McGregor and Rape Prevention Education are doing excellent work in our schools to educate our young people. It would be great to see more resources made available to roll out their programmes to a wide group of young people.

But what is urgently needed is a strategy to ensure that there is a coordinated approach. The National Sexual Violence Prevention Plan that was scuppered in 2009 needs to be urgently re-instated.

But this isn’t something we can simply leave to Parliament and the Police and hope they solve the problem for us. It comes down to what we do as individuals, families and communities. That is where the change needs to take place. Fundamentally, it’s about each of us taking responsibility for the problem.

When someone is in a violent relationship, or they’re the victim of sexual violence there will always be a bystander. Someone who sees the warning signs. Someone who knows what’s going on. We need them to speak up. We need them to tell someone.

Most men are not violent, but most violence against women is perpetrated by men. That’s why we need to support our men, because they’re the role models for our children. We need them to be part of the solution.

Today is White Ribbon Day. It’s a fantastic campaign raising awareness of violence against women. This year we’re asking men to take a pledge never to commit, condone or remain silent about violence towards women. Whether you are a husband, father, son, brother, uncle or granddad you all have women in your life that you wouldn’t want to see subjected to violence. Make a stand and take the pledge.

Women in violent relationships are waiting to be asked. No one asked me. So I kept it to myself. Make sure the women you know no longer have to stay silent.

Jackie Blue is the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, former MP and mother of two girls.

Women’s Suffrage Day in New Zealand


A picture of the petition presented to Parliament for women’s voting rights in New Zealand

It’s hard to imagine a time in New Zealand where things were not as equal as they are now, but this has historically been the case. Prior to 1893, voting in New Zealand elections was a solely male activity. However, on the 19th of September that year, after much petitioning and campaigning by New Zealand women, the Parliament of the day extended the right to vote to Kiwi women, both Maori and Pakeha. This made New Zealand the first country in the world to allow women to vote in Parliamentary elections.

After the successful campaign for equal voting rights, women’s interest in political activism remained heightened. Support for equal status within marriage was strong from women’s groups in New Zealand, as well as support for equal divorce laws and an end to violence against women. Historically, married women were the property of their husbands. Married women had no right to their own property, were unable to divorce their husbands unless a number of circumstances existed, were unable to testify against their husbands and were not able to be guardians of their children after a divorce. Essentially, women’s identities were subsumed into their husbands, making the marriage one entity – his. Laws were needed to change all of these things and to ensure that women were afforded equality within their marriages. In this sense, equality within marriage has come a long way, with 21st century marriages now including same-sex couples.

In 1982, a significant piece of legislation, the Domestic Protection Act, was passed to protect victims of domestic violence. This Act was designed to facilitate efforts to reduce domestic violence in New Zealand and made changes to the Crimes Act. 1995 saw the passing of the Domestic Violence Act, which rectified some of the flaws of the 1982 Act. It included a new definition of violence, Protection Orders and compulsory programme attendance for violent persons.

chch memorial

A picture of the Christchurch memorial with women central to the fight for suffrage

Most recently, Police Safety Orders were introduced in 2010 which Police say gives them more opportunity to make a difference to families suffering violence. Police Safety Orders require any person who represents a threat to others to leave the premises for up to five days. These orders are unique in that they allow the Police to take action in situations where they may only suspect someone is a threat or they are unable to charge someone with an offence. These orders give families time to gather their thoughts and to get in touch with support agencies to help improve their situation.

The passage of laws such as the Domestic Violence Act and the criminalisation of marital rape are relatively recent, however these laws are an important part of New Zealand’s legal framework and go some way to preventing violence against women. However, violence against women remains a huge issue, with one in three women experiencing violence during her lifetime. So while these laws are important, there is still a long way to go to envision the dream of a violence-free Aotearoa.