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Maori climbing aboard the anti-violence waaka

Media release
Wednesday 15 April 2009

Maori climbing aboard the anti-violence waaka

“Maori are climbing aboard the anti-violence waaka in increasing numbers”, says Families Commissioner, Kim Workman today, commenting on the Leitner Center report on New Zealand’s efforts to eliminate violence against women. “The Leitner report also urges us to consider whether there is sufficient food for the journey”.

“Since the completion of the Leitner survey in mid 2008 there has been a growing momentum amongst Maori to address issues of whānau violence,” Mr Workman says. “The “It’s Not OK” campaign, driven by the Families Commission and the Ministry of Social Development, is arguably the most successful social marketing campaign ever mounted in New Zealand. A recent ‘retention’ survey showed that 99% of Maori, and 90% of Pacific Peoples recalled the campaign, and the overall average retention rate was 90%.”

Mr Workman says the campaign focuses on what ordinary New Zealanders can do to put a stop to family violence. Increased efforts by Maori to engage with the issue is supported by recent Police statistics, which show increased reporting of family violence, even though non-family violence reporting, has remained relatively stable.

“There have been a number of reasons offered for the success of the “It’s No OK” campaign. In my view, whānau were already at the tipping point – that all the campaign did, was provide a waaka for whānau to climb aboard.”

The Leitner Center report supports the Maori view that violence must be tackled through whānau, by whānau. Maori leaders are challenging the idea that violence within whānau is acceptable or culturally valid, and whānau are developing their own responses to that challenge.

“The report notes the importance of empowering Maori to demonstrate their capacity to change, and change others. It also notes that a communal or extended whānau approach is a powerful and important weapon in the reduction of family violence.

“Maori have always known that changes in the wellbeing of individual Maori can be brought about by focusing on the collective of whānau. At the very core of Maori social organisation sits whānau – if the core is rotten, so is the fruit. Whānau throughout the nation have been mobilised by a message of non-violence which has within it, traditional truth and integrity. “

Mr Workman says the Leitner report will form a useful basis for continued discussion on further strategies that will advance family violence prevention.


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