Leaving violence in the dust
Hundreds of bikies will converge on Papakura Marae this weekend as part of a campaign to end violence towards women.
The men are part of the North Island's Harley ride for the White Ribbon campaign, which offers men a chance to be part of the solution to violence towards women.
Phil Paikea from Ruakaka was one of the first men to start the ride, as part of a long-running campaign against family violence instigated by the death of a young woman at the hands of her family in Mangere in 1998.
The week-long Harley ride now attracts hundreds of riders from groups all over the country.
While Mr Paikea is now one of the ride's leaders, he's no stranger to domestic violence.
His life "started to spiral out of control" when he was leading the Whangarei chapter of Black Power in the 1980s.
He was "very violent" to his 16-year-old partner, who eventually ran away with their daughter.
"One thing led to another, I found myself missing them so I dropped down the line to reconcile with them."
He left the gangs, went back to school and "started hanging round with positive people who were a huge influence on me".
"It led me to the journey I'm on now, trying to influence other men who are looking at changing and don't know how to change."
He's been drug and alcohol-free for 26 years and married to his partner for 25 - he recently surprised his wife with a second wedding at her 50th birthday party.
Back then he considered himself "a tough guy" but any respect was commanded through fear and intimidation.
"But now it's different because it's something that I've earned, not demanded. I've learnt to humble myself now."
Mr Paikea and other organisers are driving support vans for the North Island event, which started last Saturday and ends on Sunday at Papakura Marae at a special Celebrating Whanau event organised by local community groups.
Sunday will be the first time Papakura Marae has hosted the finale of the ride which usually finishes in the Far North. The marae is preparing to welcome up to 500 riders with a powhiri and a meal before they head back to their respective towns.
Many of the men riding are from the Patriots, who are drawn from the New Zealand Defence Force.
But there is a large number of men who have joined because they love bikes rather than for the White Ribbon cause, Mr Paikea says.
Organisers now run workshops for those men "to enlighten them a bit more about family violence".
Riders can join the ride when they see the bikes going through their town - the only criteria is that bikes must be over 250cc. The White Ribbon celebration is free and open to all. It runs from noon at 29 Hunua Rd, Papakura. Contact Tania Kauri on 298 2807.