White Ribbon Riders visit Wanaka

JESSICA MADDOCK AND ALEX FENSOME
Last updated 12:05 20/11/2012
White Ribbon riders
JESSICA MADDOCK/Fairfax NZ

Wanaka motorcyclist Dave Hawkins (left) joins Glenn Toohey, of Blenheim (centre) and Eru Whare of Ngaruawahia as the White Ribbon Riders pass through Wanaka during the annual nationwide tour, which promotes an end to violence towards women.

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A group of bikers roared into Wanaka today as part of a nationwide tour pushing for an end to violence against women.

The anti family-violence bikers of the White Ribbon Ride will roll into Invercargill later today.

It is the second annual White Ribbon Riders tour of the South Island and the event has been running in the North Island for four years.

About a dozen motorcyclists are travelling from Picton to Bluff and back, over eight days. They are joined by local bikers in each town.

Queenstown Lakes District Wanaka ward councillor Lyal Cocks told the group it was great to see them in Wanaka as, regrettably, the town also had its own domestic violence problems.

The tours are organised by the Families Commission. The White Ribbon Riders spokesperson Rob McCann said one in three women were subjected to violence by their partner at some stage in their lives and on average 14 women a year were killed by their current or former partner.

There were more than 3500 convictions against men for assaulting women a year and only 20 per cent of abuse was reported.

Mr McCann said this year's tour was also focusing on non-physical violence.

"Non-physical violence is about manipulation and coercion, and affects your emotions and personality, rather than your body.

"We want men to understand how devastating non-physical violence can be and ensure they do not remain silent when witnessing such behaviour."

Patriots Motorcycle Club member Donald Napier said men want to live non-violent lives but sometimes they need to be shown how.

"It's no different from bringing up your own children - they learn by watching their parents.

"By talking about our own experiences, both violent and peaceful, we want to help all men accept that it's our responsibility to end this violence and give them some tools to bring about change."

The riders will also visit Wanaka Primary School to talk to its students about healthy relationships.

The riders will be at Murihiku Marae, in Invercargill, tonight from 7.30pm to 9pm, and at the Invercargill YMCA at 9am tomorrow before heading to Bluff and the end of the road.

There, the riders will pause and show off their bikes to locals before turning around and riding back up to Christchurch, stopping at Gore's Pioneer rugby grounds at 1.30pm and in Balclutha at 3.30pm.

The convoy will be led by Donald Napier of the Patriots Motorcycle Club.

Invercargill Family Violence Focus Group project manager Karen Ave said White Ribbon Day, and the ride, were crucial events for the cause.

She expected a core group of 20 riders and many others who tagged along with the convoy for some of the legs, which is encouraged by organisers.

''Every year we get a message out there to people about standing up to violence against women and children - it's incredibly important.''

She hoped the campaign would reach the people it needed to. Supported by the Families Commission, it will have been to many smaller communities.

''They are going down the West Coast and back up the East.''

''The bikes bring a bit of attention for people to come along and see,'' she said.

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WHAT IS THE WITE RIBBON CAMPAIGN?

White Ribbon offers men the opportunity to be part of the solution to ending violence against women which is endemic in New Zealand:

  • One in three women will experience partner violence at some point in their lives.

  • On average, 14 women are killed by their partners or ex partners in New Zealand each year.

  • Over 3,500 convictions are recorded against men each year for assaults on women

  • Only 20% of abuse cases are reported.

And violence towards women is not just physical.  The impacts of psychological abuse - manipulation, intimidation and coercion - are often underestimated and its effects can last the longest.

The White Ribbon Campaign is led by men, for men.  It's about changing attitudes and behaviours around men's violence towards women - it's not about finger pointing or blame.

The key messages for White Ribbon are simple:

  • Violence towards women is unacceptable

  • Violence is not just physical

  • Men are part of the solution

  • You can help fix this problem

White Ribbon Ambassadors

There are 49 Ambassadors - men from all walks of life who are willing to stand up against violence towards women.  Ambassadors include:

  • Sport stars: Ruben Wiki and Harry Ngata

  • Politicians: Prime Minister John Key and Hon Pita Sharples

  • Entertainers: Stan Walker and Billy TK Jnr

  • Community leaders: Auckland Mayor Len Brown and former Mayor Bob Harvey

  • Sector leaders: Tau Huirama and Brian Gardner

  • Judges: Peter Boshier and Ajit Singh

White Ribbon Ride, November 17 to 25

This week will feature a motorcycle tour with ride leaders steering three convoys through 80 towns throughout New Zealand, picking up support riders in every region.  There are White Ribbon events - from school and prison visits to quiz nights and 'Dads and Lads' days.

White Ribbon Day, November 25

This is a day when people all over the world wear a white ribbon to show that they do not condone violence towards women. Source: whiteribbon.org.nz

- The Southland Times

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