Visitors to Whanganui Hospital on Thursday will be handed a white ribbon to promote non-violence towards women and children.

Eleven male staff members will hand out ribbons to visitors at the hospital's main entrance, ahead of White Ribbon day on Friday.

"The men will be on hand to talk to staff, visitors and patients interested in finding out what the White Ribbon campaign stands for," spokeswoman Sue Campion said.

A Maori canoe will also be placed outside the front of the hospital. "We're placing the waka there to highlight the need for communities to work together in eliminating family violence," hospital Maori Health Services whanau navigator Ned Tapa said. "Just as people worked together to build the waka, so is our community working together to create a safer environment for women and children."


Mr Tapa said men have a critical role to play in speaking out and responding when they hear, see or become aware of males behaving violently. While domestic violence such as punching, kicking or attempted strangulation is usually viewed as physical assault it can also be sexual, verbal, emotional or psychological.

"We encourage males to demonstrate their support for women and children wanting to live free of violence by refusing to accept any violent behaviour within their immediate and wider families which includes their peers, workmates, friends and sports clubs," Mr Tapa said.

Meanwhile, hospital Child Youth Mortality Review Committee regional co-ordinator Terry Sarten said there was evidence that attitudes towards violence were changing. "While some might think it's difficult to try and change the attitudes and actions that give rise to violence, I believe change is happening," Mr Sarten said.

"Over the past eight months, Whanganui Women's Refuge has seen increasing numbers of women who want, and expect, to live their lives free of violence so this in itself signals that change is occurring. White Ribbon Day provides an opportunity for men to walk the talk together, united in their intention to end violence against women and children."

White Ribbon Day is this Friday and will be marked with a community march along Whanganui's Victoria Avenue at midday, plus a range of other events being held around the wider region. The waka will be rowed up to the start of the march at the bottom of Victoria Avenue.