A ground-breaking documentary which aims to address New Zealand's tragically high rates of domestic and sexual violence has become a key part of this year's White Ribbon campaign.

"Raise our Men" features interviews with nine New Zealand men about their experience growing up and conforming to male stereotypes.

For former martial arts champion Richie Hardcore the format was a way of raising tough issues in a way that would 'open doors' to those who needed it most.

"There are a lot of people involved in White Ribbon who come from sporting backgrounds and we use that as a Trojan horse to these ideas," says Hardcore.


"Just because we're in this stereotypically masculine environment doesn't necessarily mean we have bad ideas about gender equity and that allows us to talk to young people - that's the buy-in we use to sneak in these different ideas."

Director Sam Tozer says while the film is based on themes born out of scientific research, it took on a life of its own as the participants opened up about their own experiences with domestic violence.

"There's been some really amazing courage and bravery from the young men who have spoken in the documentary," says Tozer.

"They've really gifted not just their stories but they've gifted their language.

"One of the biggest themes is about role modelling respectful relationships to young boys from any early age so that it's just normal to talk about your feeling and it's normal to be respectful towards women."

Hardcore says that despite New Zealand's shockingly high domestic violence statistics, he still remain positive things are moving in the right direction.

"I've been doing this for a few years now and every year the public attitude slowly shifts.

"I go and speak in schools to young people and boys from an all boys school will take time out of their day, find me on Instagram and tell me I never thought about it like that, thank you so much.


"People are becoming more receptive to the message."

"Raise our Men" screens tonight on Maori Television at 10.40pm.