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Police and Rugby take anti-violence message to Cook Islands

Police and Rugby take anti-violence message to Cook Islands

New Zealand Police, Cook Islands Police and New Zealand rugby are teaming up to promote the Break the Silence End the Violence message.

A group of ten representatives from different New Zealand rugby clubs leave for Rarotonga on Thursday (November 22) for a week-long tour visiting schools and community groups with the message that "violence is not OK".

The group consists of players and coaches who have agreed to support NZAid's Pacific Prevention of Domestic Violence Programme (PPDVP).

Head of the PPDVP in New Zealand, Cam Ronald, said one of the best ways of preventing violence was for young men and women to see role models promoting the message that violence is not OK.

The PPDVP began working with NZ rugby four years ago. Since then more than 40 players have visited countries in the Pacific as part of the programme.

"It is very positive that so many of our young sportsmen, many of them with connections to the Pacific want to take a stand against violence," Mr Ronald said.

Hurricanes Professional Development Manager, Steve Symonds says that each year he has to turn players away who want to be part of programme.

"The boys are excited to be part of the PPDVP project and the work that both the New Zealand and Cook Islands' Police do to prevent violence in the Pacific.

The programme is in its fourth year with visits to Samoa, Tonga and now the Cook Islands by players who are prepared to extend their role-model status beyond New Zealand.

Mr Ronald said the Cook Islands Police was one of the first Pacific countries to open a dedicated Domestic Violence Unit (DVU) in 2006 and had continued to build its capability to deal with domestic violence since then.

"New Zealand Police assists five countries in the Pacific as part of the PPDVP, Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands, Kiribati and Vanuatu. All of these now have dedicated DVUs. Many other pacific countries also have local staff to work on domestic violence. More than half of the police in the pacific have undergone training in dealing with domestic violence.

"It's important for victims to know they have a voice and that Police will listen to them," Mr Ronald said.

The visit coincides with International White Ribbon Day, on 25 November and the players will be participating in White Ribbon Day parades and activities while in Rarotonga.

This year former rugby league star and official White Ribbon Ambassador in New Zealand, Awen Guttenbeil will also join the tour.

"White Ribbon Ambassadors are chosen for their willingness to take an active stand against violence and their ability to build awareness in their communities. He will be a valuable addition to our visit, Mr Ronald said."

During the week the players will visit schools, and a prison. They will promote the message to the wider community as well as taking the time to train with young rugby players.


Participants

Mark Hammett - Head Coach, Hurricanes
Wally Rifle - Coach, Blues
Mark Ranby - Professional Development Manager, Crusaders and Canterbury Rugby
Awen Guttenbeil - former league player, White Ribbon Ambassador
Thomas Perenara - Hurricanes
Gafatasi Sua - Auckland
Joseph Wheeler - Tasman ITM and Highlanders 2013 squad
Mahonri Schwalger - Chiefs, Counties Manukau
Motu Matu'u - Hurricanes
Albert Nikoro - Blues

ENDS

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