"Kill the Family Court for killing our families" was the message of protesters outside Rotorua's courthouse yesterday.
A group of fathers involved in the Fathers Coalition have been protesting outside courthouses around the country for their rights as parents, and yesterday was Rotorua's turn.
Members of the coalition were standing on the grass strip median outside the Rotorua Family Court on Arawa St from 10.30am, dressed in skeleton costumes and yelling messages through megaphones and waving signs.
As traffic swept by the men, some cars were honking their horns in support while onlookers from the street captured the scene on their mobile phone cameras.
Police officers on their way to give evidence at court asked some of the men to tone down their language, but were happy to let the men have their say so long as they were respectful of others.
Protester Jack Gielen, a driving force behind the movement and a member of Suicide Prevention NZ, said about 50 fathers committed suicide each year because of Family Court decisions.
"Rotorua demographically has been responsible for a lot of suicides in this particular area, mental health services say 50 per cent of those men have been through there."
Mr Gielen said the group was calling for a Men's Ministry of Affairs to operate in New Zealand, as he said men were "scapegoats" in the family court system.
"Men are the scapegoats, they're said to be violent or anti-family, but there's no services in place to change that so basically they're punishing the men rather than helping them learn parenting skills."
He said counselling was only offered to a small percentage of these men.
"We want to see compulsory family mediation and counselling put in place," said Mr Gielen.
"We've talked to [Justice Minister] Judith Collins about calling for a review of the Family Court, we want to see some major changes."
Fathers from the Hawkes Bay, Hamilton and Auckland were at the protest. Mr Gielen said they were going all around the country, with Hamilton, Hawkes Bay and Wellington also on the agenda.
For more information about the protest or the Fathers Coalition, call Jack on (07) 859 2939 or Kerry on (09) 424 7762.