From baby pink to fuchsia, shades of pink are brightening up Rotorua to bring to light the dark reality of bullying in New Zealand.

Pink Shirt Day is the international day dedicated to raising awareness of bullying and the many forms it can take in schools, the workplace and wider community.

It began in Canada in 2007 when two students took a stand against homophobic bullying after a peer was bullied for wearing a pink shirt.

In New Zealand, it is run through the Mental Health Foundation and the theme this year is whakanuia tōu āhua ake: celebrating being us.

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Rotorua Lakes High School Pink Shirt Day organisers Ava Slade (left) 16, Monique Hingston, 15, Ryleigh Lawrence, 16, and Rebecca Reid, 16.
Rotorua Lakes High School Pink Shirt Day organisers Ava Slade (left) 16, Monique Hingston, 15, Ryleigh Lawrence, 16, and Rebecca Reid, 16.

The Pink Shirt Day website stated the school bullying rates in New Zealand were among the worst worldwide.

Rotorua Lakes High School Year 12 health students had been learning about mental wellbeing and organised a school fundraiser around the important issue.

It involved assemblies to talk about bullying and today students could buy and send compliments to friends through balloons as well buy pink cupcakes.

Health teacher Dana Frost said it was more than just promoting anti-bullying and more about promoting mental health.

Frost said it was important to highlight it was not always possible to ask for help when in a dark place.

Abigail Donald, (left), 15 and Koyuki Ellis, 15, with compliment balloons they were given for Pink Shirt Day. Photo / Cira Olivier
Abigail Donald, (left), 15 and Koyuki Ellis, 15, with compliment balloons they were given for Pink Shirt Day. Photo / Cira Olivier

"It's about those friends and onlookers and saying 'are you all right?' "

Rebecca Reid, 16, was one of the organisers and said it was important for them to talk about the different types of bullying and show people how to stand up to it if they saw it.

Toi Ohomai put "aroha boards" throughout the campuses for staff and students to write messages of tolerance as well as be part of an anti-bullying campaign video.

Toi Ohomai chief executive Leon Fourie said it was about embracing whanaungatanga and spreading kindness and aroha throughout the community.

Toi Ohomai staff and students making a stand against bullying. Photo / Supplied
Toi Ohomai staff and students making a stand against bullying. Photo / Supplied

The Ministry of Social Development was one of the workplaces which decked out in pink and Rachel Leishman was a strong advocate of calling out workplace bullying.

"It needs to be talked about and recognising it happens in all walks of life."