Relay pushes anti-violence theme

New Plymouth's main street will host the city's first-ever relay to raise awareness of family violence today.

The White Ribbon Relay will bring together 100 participants from business, government and community organisations across the region.

The section of Devon St West from Currie St to Brougham St will be closed while the 25 teams compete in the relay.

Seventy-two local men have also pledged to not condone or remain silent about violence towards women.

Taranaki Safe Families co-ordinator Marion James said the event was a fantastic way to get the community involved in the cause.

"We've had a fantastic response. People who haven't been able to enter teams are going to come and support."

The relay was a unique way of raising awareness and support from the public rather than a street march, she said.

It was not fitness-based but would require participants to complete several fun activities.

New Plymouth District Council community development manager Leighton Littlewood has signed the pledge and will also compete in the relay today with a team from the council.

He said it was a fun way to raise awareness for something that was a serious issue.

"It promotes the concept of doing something together and creates a positive environment."

He said he put his name behind the cause to show he was prepared to actually live by the values.

"There's a lot of people doing hard work for it, so it's not much for us to do."

The event will be followed by a prizegiving and a barbecue in Huatoki Plaza.

More than 8000 white ribbons have been distributed across the Taranaki region in the past two weeks.

People were encouraged to wear them in the week leading up to and on November 25 to show their support, Mrs James said.

Between 2000 and 2004, 56 women were murdered in family violence incidents.

Forty-five of these were committed by a male partner or ex-partner.

Taranaki Daily News