Riders rumble into town in show of force for cause

By Laurel Stowell

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Engines roared and chrome glittered as 12 patched and black-clad riders arrived in Wanganui yesterday afternoon.

Some of them had white ribbons fluttering from their handlebars, and despite the whiskers and tattoos they were far from sinister.

They were a contingent from the White Ribbon Ride that is making its way through New Zealand, and six of them stopped in at Whanganui Prison to talk to inmates of the Maori Focus Unit.

At Wanganui's Majestic Square they parked and scattered to give out ribbons and talk to people. Later they were to spend the night at the army base at Landguard Bluff. Today they continue to New Plymouth.

Leader Aaron Morrison has been with the New Zealand Defence Force for 26 years, and seen service overseas. He said the White Ribbon message was about ending violence to women. Its pledge is never to commit, condone or remain silent about it.

"As a soldier you go overseas to help create peace, and then to come home and create the same harmony here."

He leads a diverse group of men and women, many of them former service men. Some have been victims and perpetrators of family violence.

The White Ribbon Whanganui Action Group has been meeting for about four months and member Tim Metcalfe is pleased it's attracting some active younger men.

Members can make the pledge on the group's website, go to its Facebook page or buy T-shirts.

This year White Ribbon Day will be marked by a march from the Whanganui River end of St Hill St on Saturday morning, starting at 11am. It will be headed by well-known Wanganui men, including Randhir Dahya on the bagpipes.

It will be followed by food and entertainment at Majestic Square.

Mr Metcalfe said the men marching would be making a "political statement" and putting their reputations on the line.

- WANGANUI CHRONICLE

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