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Bob Harvey - Men's Summit

Friday May 6 2005

Waitakere Mayor Bob Harvey today challenged New Zealand men to lift the game in terms of bettering themselves, doing better by women and children and taking their fatherhood responsibilities more seriously.

The mayor was welcoming delegates at New Zealand’s First Men’s Issue Summit, hosted by Waitakere City Council and featuring a number of speakers including Labour MP John Tamihere.

Mayor Harvey, who wrote the country’s first guide to fatherhood book “Hey Dad!’ more than 20 years ago, said being a ‘real’ man was not about being redblooded or blokey but about men challenging, pushing and expecting more from themselves.

“There is still far too much domestic violence, sexism and aggressive male behaviour,” Mayor Harvey told the crowd of around 70.

“We are still seeing too many young men killing themselves – either by taking their own lives or through horrendous car accidents as bravado that seems more important than life itself.

“We still don’t understand that women don’t want our power, they only want their own and we’re still seeing too many fathers not taking their responsibilities seriously enough.”

The father of five children, Mayor Harvey said his generation of men was one not blooded by war and the first to start working with their minds.

“We had a different kind of relationship with our mates and therefore our children,” he said.

“We made time for our kids. We took them to Saturday morning sport and the supermarket and we took them away from the care of their mothers. Looking after our own children became ‘fathering’ not ‘babysitting’. A lot was thanks to the brilliant invention of the back pack.”

While there was still a long way to go, men had achieved a great deal said Mr Harvey.

“We all know that these days women don’t fall about laughing as much as they used to when they hear the words ‘men’s group’ and I don’t think they’ve got the same misgivings about men getting together that they once had.

“But we must continue to include women in our plans to redress the educational and social challenges facing men and boys. We must see women as allies not enemies. They are our team-mates in the game of healthy parenting and the co-creation of a healthy society. They are not the opposition and we must stop playing our end of that game.”

Mayor Harvey said blokeism and redbloodedness would just perpetuate old thinking that is no longer relevant or useful.

“We can do so much better than that. We can still be staunch but let’s be staunch about the right things. We can still be tough but let’s get toughness in the right perspective. We need to stand firm and tall for the forward view of what a truly honourable man is – a dynamic, intelligent guy who contributes to his family and community from a healthy place and space.”

ENDS

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