Keep Tyson and his message out of New Zealand – Sharples

Press Release from Hon Dr Pita Sharples

Māori Party Co-leader Dr Pita Sharples, a White Ribbon ambassador against male violence, has joined opposition to Mike Tyson’s visit to New Zealand to talk about his life story.

“The man is a convicted rapist, and it seems pretty clear that he has not accepted responsibility for his actions,” said Dr Sharples. “I do not want Mike Tyson telling our kids that the way he deals with his serious crime of sexual violence is by blaming the victim.”

“I have read reports of his presentation in the US, which are filled with sexist jokes and contempt for women. Clearly he has not turned his life around at all. Instead he is using his speaking tours and associated publicity to try to maintain his past reputation as a bad guy and to justify his views and behaviour.

“I totally disagree with Willie Jackson and the Manukau Urban Māori Authority that Mike Tyson is a good role model for young Māori and Pacific Island kids.

“Our kids need positive role models, not high-profile people like Mike Tyson reinforcing the worst attitudes towards violence against women. Popularity on the street does not make someone a good role model, and opinion leaders in our communities need to show judgement.

“Our kids do have fantastic role models here in New Zealand, who have amazing records of achievement in many fields. Look at our Olympic gold medallists, including Valerie Adams, Lisa Carrington and Sarah Walker. They have become champions through focus, discipline and hard work, not aggression and violence.

“There are dozens of sporting heroes, the Manu Vatuveis and Benji Marshalls of league, numbers of Māori and Pacific Island All Blacks and Silver Ferns, who are ideal mentors because they are already known to young people in Aotearoa.

“I think they offer a totally positive inspiration to our young people, and we can well do without Mike Tyson here spreading his toxic message.”

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Hon Pita Sharples – New White Ribbon Ambassador

New Ambassador Hon Pita Sharples

‘The White Ribbon Campaign welcomes Hon Pita Sharples as a new White Ribbon Ambassador in the fight to end violence against women’, says Families Commission Campaign Manager Rob McCann.

The White Ribbon Day campaign raises awareness of men’s violence against women – which in New Zealand is generally directed at wives, girlfriends and other intimate partners. White Ribbon Ambassadors encourage men to get involved by helping to challenge and change men’s abusive behaviour and attitudes towards women.

‘Matariki is a special event in New Zealand’s calendar, celebrating the traditional Maori New Year,’ says Mr McCann. ‘It’s an important time for family to gather and reflect on the past and the future – a future the White Ribbon Campaign would like to be violence-free.

White Ribbon Ambassadors are chosen for their passion and commitment to ending violence towards women. There are now 43 ambassadors who use their public profile to champion a violence-free lifestyle to other men. Dr Sharples has Co-chaired the Waitakere Task Force on Family Violence for many years, initially with former mayor Bob Harvey.

‘I’m honoured to have been nominated as a White Ribbon Ambassador,’ says Dr Sharples. ‘I have worn a White Ribbon for many years as a symbol of non-violence, and now to be asked to take a leadership role is very humbling.

‘I believe that our tamariki are our future and they deserve to grow up in homes that are violence-free, and I want to encourage young men to build relationships based on love and respect’ says Dr Sharples.

Minister Sharples will be formally honoured as a White Ribbon Ambassador at the Matariki Event in South Auckland organised by the South Auckland Family Violence Protection Network. There are now 42 White Ribbon Ambassadors including Ruben Wiki, Stan Walker, Len Brown, David White and the Prime Minister.

White Ribbon March at Waitakere 2011