Kaitaia residents by the hundred have taken a symbolic stand against domestic violence by planting white ribbons on a main street lawn.

Among those making the gesture to mark White Ribbon Day on Tuesday were more than 40 preschoolers, aged between four months and just under five, from Footprints Educare.

Howard Cross, a pastor at Hope Christian Centre, said the church had 1000 ribbons made for the public to stake into its Commerce St lawn.

The main aim of White Ribbon Day was to send a clear message that violence against women was unacceptable, but the same could be said for any form of domestic violence. On average, 14 women were killed by their partners or family members in New Zealand each year, along with 10 children and six men, he said.


Planting a ribbon was a symbolic gesture but he hoped it would be powerful in changing perceptions.

Mr Cross had visited seven Kaitaia schools to invite them to take part and emailed many more.

"If we can teach children when they are young that violence is not okay, it will hopefully carry through to adulthood."

All role models and leaders had to set an example by speaking out and "walking the talk". Those who knew it was happening could not stay silent.

Celina Arona and her staff at Footprints, part of Kaitaia's Abundant Life Church, walked their young charges - 41 pre-schoolers, toddlers and infants - to Commerce Street to take part.

The ribbon-planting was an initiative of Presbyterian Support Northern.

-Phone the Family Violence help line on 0800 456 450 between 9am and 11pm seven days a week for support, or call 111 in an emergency.