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by Chris Tobin

In the five years Roger Mahon has been associated with the White Ribbon Ride he has seen changes.

“Before we go to the schools the kids have done theĀ  “prep” now and know what we’re about.

The Nelson man was Ribbon Ride leader for the South Island leg which reached Timaru last Friday.

The ride promoted the message that violence against women was not acceptable.

“This year’s focus is all about talking and encouraing people to open up,” Mr Mahon said.

“New Zealand men are supposed to be tough and not allowed to complain and they have to be hard.

“This all affects our mental and physical health. We’re encouraging guys to show their emotions and that it’s ok to cry.”

He said the problem related not just to physical violence but also to things such as control.

Catching up…Timaru deputy mayor and White Ribbon Ambassador Steve Wills, left, chats with White Ribbon ride leader Ken Mahon. At back is Steve McBrearty.

The ride started in Picton with a core group of 16 riders who were joined by others in the localities they stopped and visited.

He said some of the riders had been perpetrators, but had since changed their behaviour for the better.

During their stay in Timaru the riders visited Roncalli College and stopped at the Placemakers car park for a Te Rito-organised barbecue that was open to the public and attended by representatives from the police, fire service, a Rapid Relief Team and Zonta Club of Timaru who handed out white ribbons.