Northland Iwi members and advocates will work towards stopping sexual violence in Aotearoa by participating in seven marathons in seven days.
Labour’s Māori Development spokesman Kelvin Davis says the challenge, named The Seven7 Challenge, will bring together iwi and advocates who are dedicated to stopping sexual violence.
“It’s a continuation of the hikoi I led last year. We walked the length of the Te Tai Tokerau electorate from Auckland to Cape Reinga highlighting the help required to manage the damaging impact of sexual violence," Davis says.
He adds that there will be a number of key messages they'll be advocating.
It’s time to acknowledge sexual violence is rife in so many isolated communities throughout the country and the harm inflicted by the offenders is causing life-long damage.
It is also important to end the secrecy and encourage safer options for sexual violence survivors to speak out. It’s also vital that people who witness these horrible acts speak out.
I’m committed to walking 40 kilometres around Kaitaia each day and I’ll be supported by Kaikohe Pastor Mike Shaw, Ngati Whatua leader Anthony Thompson and the sexual violence advocacy group Korowai Tumanako."
Anthony Thompson says the safety of Ngāti Whātua whānau is a great concern and he wants his iwi to take a lead role in highlighting the need to stop sexual violence.
Davis says, "Pastor Mike Shaw says the marathon theme is to eliminate sexual violence in the long term... It’s going to take commitment and endurance. But if we break it down into small steps and everyone do what they can, together we will get there.
Russell Smith and Joy Te Wiata of Korowai Tumanako say their central message is together we can prevent sexual violence and as a whole community we can achieve this."
The Seven7 Challenge starts on Sunday 23 October. Kelvin Davis will be lead the hīkoi which will start from Awanui School in Kaitaia.
"Just put on your walking shoes and join in, the more the merrier,” says Davis.