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Mark Longley to speak at HB White Ribbon rally

Mark Longley to speak at HB White Ribbon rally

The father of domestic violence victim Emily Longley will be the guest speaker at a rally in Hastings next weekend to mark White Ribbon Day.

Mark Longley will speak about his 18-year-old daughter Emily, who was killed by her violent boyfriend in London last year. The case made headlines here and in the UK and prompted widespread debate about domestic violence in the community.

Mark's attendance at the rally is just one highlight of Man Up, which will be held on November 17 in Hastings to raise awareness of domestic violence in the community. The event is being held on the Saturday before White Ribbon Day to enable more people to participate in activities.

The day will start with a march beginning at 9am from the Havelock North War Memorial, along the Hastings-Havelock Rd walkway to the Hastings clock tower in the CBD.

Local musician Aroha Thompson and her band will be performing, along with the Anglessey Sisters from Wellington, who have won several national singing competitions and are known for their social conscience music.

One of the more significant aspects of the day will be the presentation and display of a large carving done by inmates of Mangaroa Prison. The carving symbolises the inmates' support for victims of family violence and their renouncing of violence against women. The prisoners have also made White Ribbons out of flax to mark the ocassion. These will be available at the rally.

The day is being organised by the multi-agency network Live HB (Local Initiative for Violence Elimination). Live HB has 36 member agencies and works towards reducing family violence in the community.

A Facebook page has also been set up to mark White Ribbon Day in the Bay - Man Up Hawke's Bay. Information about White Ribbon activities will be posted as well as contacts for agencies who detail with victims of domestic violence.

One of the organisers, Detective Sergeant Darren Pritchard of the Hastings police family violence team, says events such as Man Up would hopefully raise more awareness of the issue and make it socially unacceptable.

"Ideally family violence should have the same profile as drink-driving, which has now become socially unacceptable and is frowned on by the community.

"There is a lot of work to do by everyone to make people realise that it's not OK to beat up your missus and kids. That includes not just agencies, but family and friends who should have the guts to confront offenders and victims and challenge their behaviours.

"It's time for everyone to Man Up about family violence and do the right thing," Mr Pritchard says.

Organisers are hoping for a large turnout on November 17 that will create a bold public statement.

"The more people we get along to the march and the rally the better. Come along and show your support for a very important issue that our community has to come to grips with whether we like it or not. This is for everyone - men, women and children."

Marchers should meet at the Havelock North War Memorial at 9am on November 17. If you can't march, a bus will be available to the Hastings CBD.

In Napier, the Patriots motorcycle club will be doing their annual run through the district on White Ribbon Day. The public are invited to meet the guys on their bikes at Memorial Square in Napier on November 25 between 11am and 12.30pm. There will also be guest speakers, stalls and a free sausage sizzle.

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