An anti-violence campaigner has called on Northland men to "man up" and lead the way against domestic violence by speaking up if they see others abusing loved ones.
Nine days after Patricia Ann McGrath was buried, her whanau and about 500 others marched through central Whangarei yesterday to push the message to rescue those in violent relationships.
The mother of two, nicknamed Wowo, died on January 8 in Whangarei Hospital after she was taken off life support following an assault four days earlier in her Kamo home.
John McGrath, brother of Patricia, led the procession down Bank St, into Rathbone St to Laurie Hall Park.
Others who joined the march included Queenie Dunn, the mother of murdered Whangarei woman Mairina Dunn, Steve Elliott, uncle of Sophie Elliott who was stabbed 218 times by her former boyfriend in Dunedin, and Karen Edwards, mother of Ashlee Edwards, who was found dead under a bridge in central Whangarei last year.
They carried posters of loved ones taken by domestic violence.
Whangarei ex-gang member Phil Paikea, who turned his own violent past around and was one of the initiators of the White Ribbon anti-violence motorcycle ride, told those gathered at the end of the march it was time to "man up".
"Year after year, it has been the nannies and the aunties leading the charge. We have to man up and take the lead. We don't need money to do it. Take a look around ... all we need is each other. The time for debating family violence is gone. It's time for action. Family violence is here, it's real." The comments drew a round of applause.
Mr Paikea called on kuia and kaumatua to get together and use their networks through marae to create a strategy and be vocal about the anti-violence message.
"What hurts the most is the silence, because it's the silence that's killing our women."
He said those who had joined the march were making a public proclamation that "enough is enough" and the women's deaths should not be in vain.
Whangarei Mayor Morris Cutforth said he had rescued a family member of his own from domestic violence and he had wanted to be part of the march.
"People who know about members of their own whanau who are trapped, they need to get in there and rescue them," he said. John McGrath also urged men to walk away from domestic violence. "If you've got mana, walk away. Let's set an example for the rest of the motu [island] that domestic violence is not okay."
He said his family were angry and confused, and admitted they had not had time to grieve yet but would do that when the dust settled. However, he said he was not prepared to just bury his sister and walk away.
The march signified a start in creating a groundswell against domestic violence, Mr McGrath said.
White Ribbon: It's OK to ask for help - call 0800 456 450.