Aotearoa set to celebrate largest, brightest Pink Shirt Day in a decade

10 May, 2019

Next Friday 17 May a record number of people across Aotearoa will turn māwhero/pink to Kōrero Mai, Kōrero Atu, Mauri Tū, Mauri Ora – Speak Up, Stand Together, Stop Bullying!

Over 4500 people from schools, workplaces and communities have joined the movement to celebrate diversity, spread aroha and kindness and stand up against bullying – the highest number since the global campaign landed on our shores ten years ago.

Well-known Kiwis including Suzy Cato, John Kirwan, Anika Moa, Hilary Barry, Dame Valerie Adams and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern are also backing the Pink Shirt Day kaupapa.

Mental Health Foundation chief executive Shaun Robinson says the groundswell of support shows Aotearoa is committed to creating much needed change.

“Bullying is a huge issue here – we have the second-highest rate for school bullying out of 51 countries, and as many as one in five Kiwis are affected by bullying in the workplace,” Mr Robinson says.

“Bullying can have serious and ongoing impacts on our mental health and wellbeing. People who are bullied are more likely to experience depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts – we all need to stand together to make Aotearoa a safer place for everyone, especially our rangatahi.” 

Pink Shirt Day began in Canada in 2007 when two students took a stand against homophobic bullying after a fellow student was bullied for wearing a pink shirt. Ending homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying remains a focus of the campaign.

“Young people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex or asexual (LGBTQIA+) experience high rates of bullying, particularly at school,” Mr Robinson says.

This year the Pink Shirt Day campaign has introduced several new elements to equip schools to create more inclusive, welcoming environments that prevent bullying.

“We funded InsideOUT to run a series or workshops with students and teachers across Aotearoa on creative inclusive environments for rainbow young people – they covered practical things like having gender neutral uniforms and bathrooms and ensuring LGBTQIA+ representation across the curriculum.

“We also teamed up with Sparklers who have created new wellbeing activities for schools that provide children/tamariki with meaningful tools they can use in challenging situations, to empower them and help them empower others.”

Preventing workplace bullying has also been a top priority for the Pink Shirt Day campaign.

“We recently released a bullying prevention resource that helps leaders, managers and teams to create positive work environments and cultures where mana-enhancing, open communication is the norm so bullying cannot thrive,” Mr Robinson says.

A Pasifika Pink Shirt Day community event was held in Mangere and was a huge success, generating excitement and support for Pink Shirt Day. 

A Māori whānau event is being held at Manurewa Marae tomorrow organised by Te Kaha O Te Rangatahi.

“Māori and Pasifika youth are over-represented in poor mental health statistics, so local events that bring these communities together to find solutions to bullying is invaluable.” Mr Robinson says.

This year Cotton On has partnered with Pink Shirt Day, with official t-shirts being sold in store and online.

“Cotton On is incredibly proud to partner with the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand to support their important work and the 2019 Pink Shirt Day campaign,” Cotton On Group New Zealand Country Manager Kerry Ashford says.

“Through our partnership 100% of net proceeds are donated to the MHF to support its bullying prevention work around New Zealand. We hope that our support of the campaign will mean more people become aware of this very important cause and take action around mental health issues.”

ENDS

For more information on the Pink Shirt Day and local story angles please contact:

Mark Wilson
021 998 949
mark.wilson@mentalhealth.org.nz

More info: 

  • Read out more about Pink Shirt Day here.
  • Visit the website: www.pinkshirtday.org.nz
  • Schools are also encouraged to participate in Bullying-free NZ Week, which runs from 13–17 May, in the lead up to Pink Shirt Day.
  • People can buy their Pink Shirt Day t-shirts from select Cotton On stores around New Zealand or online.