Two new Auckland based White Ribbon Ambassadors have been nominated by the community and endorsed by the Families Commission to assist this campaign. Hon Dr Pita Sharples, Minister of Māori Affairs and George Ngatai Co-Chair of South Auckland Family Violence Prevention Network (SAFVPN) join the likes of Prime Minister John Keys, International Soccer Player Harry Ngata and Principal Family Court Judge Peter Boshier as White Ribbon Ambassadors.
These appointments play a vital role in building support, visibility and developing a shared understanding of the White Ribbon campaign within their social groups, workplaces and communities. Ambassadors are chosen to embody the principles of the campaign, their willingness to challenge the behaviour of abusive men, and to convey key messages directly to their own communities.
Senior staff from the Families Commission made a presentation to Dr Sharples at the Matariki Candlelight Vigil on Mangere Mountain hosted by George Ngatai and Marama Hetaraka Co-Chairs of SAFVPN.
The vigil opened with the Hon Dr Pita Sharples and acknowledged more than 100 men, women and children who have died over a five year period through domestic violence or child abuse. These names included the likes of Helen Meads murdered by her husband, Bronwyn Sadler from Christchurch and 2 month old Tahi Elvis Edwards who was suffocated in the back of a car.
Superintendent John Tims of Counties Manukau Police and Auckland Regional Director of Child Youth and Family, Grant Bennett spoke about the role of their agencies in supporting the families through these tragedies.
The most moving part of this event was when the names of the 100 or more people were read out said SAFVPN Co-Chair and newly appointed Ambassador George Ngatai. This was followed by the presentation of fellow White Ribbon Ambassador David White whose daughter Helen Mead was murdered by her husband in 2009.
“We need to stand up to abuse against women and go one step further against children and families as well. I am honored to be part of this campaign and I thought about it, what it would be like if it was my family, my wife, my 2 year old son who was killed and tears well up inside me. If I can help stop this abuse and stop one more life being taken by being a White Ribbon Ambassador I’m happy” George said.
Source: Press Release - South Auckland Family Violence Prevention Network