Whanganui's La Fiesta begins on Wednesday, February 14, with One Billion Rising, a global event celebrated around the world on the same day.

Due to its location, the Whanganui event will be the first registered One Billion Rising.
Maria Lotura Lawless is the Whanganui co-ordinator.
"It will be at Majestic Square and we've got music, drumming and dancing, flashmob ... it's the same dance that's being done all around the world with more than 200 countries taking part," she says.

That dance is called Break the Chain and is performed at every One Billion Rising, wherever it may be.
Choreographed by Debbie Allen, Break the Chain is available on-line so anyone can learn the steps and join in. Debbie was principle choreographer for the TV series Fame and currently has a recurring role in Grey's Anatomy.
"She heard the song and knew about One Billion Rising so choreographed the dance to go with the song," says Maria.

Anyone who wants to learn the dance the conventional way can attend practice sessions at the Women's Network on Mondays at 7pm. There is a seated version for people with mobility issues.
"One Billion Rising represents solidarity in movement, standing up against violence and exploitation and oppression of women, children and the planet. Every year they change the theme a little bit but for the last couple of years it's stuck with exploitation, because that seems to be what's feeding a lot of the things happening to women. "


Carla Donson, Women's Network Manager and La Fiesta co-ordinator says human trafficking is one of the world's top five export industries with an economy worth billions of dollars. "The 'One Billion' in One Billion Rising comes from the statistics collected by World Health Organisation and other agencies.
"We know that one out of every three women and girls on the planet are violated in their lifetimes.
"That's at least one billion women and girls affected by physical and sexual violence," she says.
"Their aim was to get one billion people participating [in the event] and they reached that in 2015," Maria says. "It just keeps growing."

Events around the world are streamed live, no matter where they are.
"It's spine-tingling watching." says Carla. From a small group of women dancing in a remote village to cities where tens of thousands of people share the same dance.
"People often wonder what the link is, with having a dance to commemorate something that sounds like quite a grim statistic," says Carla. "The idea of dancing is the sense of reclaiming public spaces, because for a lot of women, being in public spaces can be quite scary and a lot of women experience discrimination in public spaces or in places like courthouses and police stations where they are reminded of the terrible things that have happened to them.
"The idea of being in your body to dance is a reclamation of the physical."

One Billion Rising is on Wednesday, February 14 at Majestic Square, beginning with a greeting at 10.45am, with music, speeches, drumming and dancing until 5pm.
Maria is also organising the La Fiesta event which follows One Billion Rising on the same day.
"We've got Mandi Lynn coming to do the Finding Venus Golden Photo Shoot," she says. "She's going through New Zealand taking photographs of women's torsos covered in golden clay. She's doing an art exhibit with all the photos."
Mandi will also speak at One Billion Rising.
"It's an action-packed love day on the opening day of La Fiesta," says Carla. "We want to extend an open invitation to the community to come and join us."

Maria is organising a number of La Fiesta events in partnership with her friend, Joleen Scott.