Lifting New Zealand’s Dark Cloud
About The Book
Family Violence is about taking steps to end this violence. It’s about making New Zealand the safest country in the world again.
David White has been actively campaigning since 2011 to stop family violence. He regularly addresses groups and clubs around the country and has built up a high media profile.
His last book was Helen: The Helen Meads Tragedy (David Ling Publishing).
Aotearoa New Zealand is no longer the Land of the Long White Cloud. These days it is covered by a very dark one indeed. In just 40 years New Zealand has dropped from being the safest country in the world to the most violent in the OECD. Our family violence rate is such that every minute of every day someone is suffering abuse. Men, women and children all over the country – irrespective of the colour of their skin, their race or religion, or their socio-economic status.
“We would urge everyone who reads this book to think carefully about themselves, their families, their friends, and the world around them, and ask if what they see, hear or do is contributing to either the problem or the solution.”
Ang Jury, CEO Women’s Refuge
It’s not just politicians who can make ‘state of the nation’ speeches. We all can. Have a look around you and see if everything is as you want it. If not, why not? Have your say.
Here is mine.
I begin with the following premise: that if we are not here to protect our children and live in a safe society, then what are we here for?
My own family had it lucky. My wife and I were married in the 1960s and brought up our young family in the 70s so that they were teenagers in the 80s.
New Zealand was the safest country in the world in the 1970s. Bar none. We would leave the house unlocked and the windows open. We would leave the keys in the car when we went shopping. Our kids played outside with others or just wandered down to the beach and swam without parental supervision. They could swim as naturally as they could run or ride a bike. There were mass games on our big front lawn, with every kid on the street joining in, irrespective of age or size. Games like British Bulldog or a shambolic version of rugby, resulting in kids going home with grass-stained clothes, a bruise or two, maybe a tear that would be brushed aside, along with words of encouragement that they would win next time. Most of all our kids were fit, tired, and by the time they came home, hungry. They’d often play tennis on the road in the late afternoon, only interrupted by the occasional vehicle at which point someone would call out that ‘Mr Rowlands [or someone else] is coming home’. The participants would then move aside until the car was gone and their tournament could resume.
And did it matter who won? Of course, it did. Most of the debate on the subject would be trying to work out who was the winner as the rules changed if one side had too much advantage. Goals became wider or narrower depending on how good a particular side was that afternoon.
In the mix was a boy named Geoffrey who had to wear a calliper on one leg as a result of polio. This meant he couldn’t run about as easily, so it was the duty of one of the bigger kids to push him about in a wheelbarrow in these games. Seeing Geoffrey get spilled out of the wheelbarrow or have some other kid run over by it was a regular event. It never seemed to matter to Geoffrey or any of the kids; it was just good fun.
Eventually, they all grew up. They married and had families. Grandchildren arrived on the scene, and then, to our delight, great-grandchildren.
‘Retirement is great,’ we said to ourselves.
Yes, we were lucky.
There would be very few New Zealanders today who would not be aware, at least at some level of consciousness, that domestic and family violence is at endemic levels within our country. During 2015 Women’s Refuge supported close to 20,000 women and children experiencing abuse, providing 70,000 nights of protection in our safe houses and answering a call on our crisis line every seven minutes. In the same year the police were called to more than 100,000 family violence ‘incidents’.