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
“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.