Bay of Plenty Times
White Ribbon pledge amid sombre setting
Thirty-one years after the brutal rape and murder of British backpacker Monica Cantwell a small group of people scaledmauaoand pledged to stand against violence onwomenas part of White Ribbon Day.
Cantwell was killed at the top of Mauaoon November 20, 1989. These days, a large rock adorned with a plaque honours hermemory just metres from where her body was found.
Yesterday morning, the rock was shrouded in grey mist as people gathered to remember Cantwell and look forward to better times.
Organiser Buddy Mikaere said the wetweather preventedmany people from attending but also created an eerie calm for those peoplewhodid, such as acting mayor Tina Salisbury and Tauranga Women’s Refuge family resilience kaumahi (worker) Hori Ahomiro.
“Being up there at that particular spot was quite poignant,” Mikaere said.
“With the mist all around, it was quite a sombre setting but a celebration as well, marking this day and people having good and sound and sensible things to say.
“It was just lovely. Wehad people therewhoread poetry, everyone sang really well. Wewill try to do it again next year, of course, making it an annual event.”
White Ribbon Day, November 25, is the international daywhenpeople wear awhite ribbon to show that they do not condone violence towards women. It began in Canada in 1991 and was adopted by the United Nations, being introduced to Newzealand in 2004.
Mikaere said the event, marking the day, acknowledged there were issues in society “but this is somethingwecan do, as a community, without toomuch effort”.
Innewzealand, an average of 24 adults and nine children a year are killed in family violence. At least
Being up there at that particular spot was quite poignant. Buddy Mikaere
another 3500 convictions a year are recorded againstmenfor assaults onwomenand one in fivewomen will experience sexual assault at somepoint in their lives.
Mikaere has long supported Tauranga Women’s Refuge and held the first White Ribbon Daymauao service last year to mark the 30th anniversary of Cantwell’s death.
Ahomiro, who is also a Bay of Plenty District Health Board member, said the service had felt “eerie” in the mist and the rain also lifted during the service, returning after it was over.
“For us, asma¯ori, there’s awairua in that space,” he said.
Ahomiro spoke of the importance to acknowledge the need to look afterwomenand children but also themeninvolved and ensure they were educated about violence.