Male survivors of sexual abuse are trekking from North Canterbury to Parliament on horseback to send a message to politicians about the need for better protection for children.

Ken Clearwater, the national advocate for peer support group Male Survivors Aotearoa, was one of nine riders to start the nine-day journey to Wellington on Monday.

On arrival at Parliament on August 6, they plan to ask as many politicians as they can to commit to giving a voice to victims.

Published in Stuff

“New Zealand has a goal to eradicate pests by 2050, but no strategic plan for domestic violence,” Clearwater said.

“We would like to be part of the conversation – we are the victims and we want a voice too.’’

Clearwater, who became an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2019 for his victim support work, said the trek started at the Charles Upham memorial in Amberley as a reminder of the men who left New Zealand in 1914 to fight for their country.

“If you look at it, we really haven’t done very well since then,’’ he said. “This is a call to men to stand up and take some responsibility.’’

Clearwater said he and other abuse survivors ended up very angry, which led them down a path of destruction and “horrific” behaviour.

“Of the nine survivors [on the trek], we have a gang member, men who’ve had issues with alcohol and drugs, one who was deported from Australia under section 501 … we want to be a voice to young people to say you don’t have to go down that path.’’

Terry King, horseman and childhood abuse survivor, has been instrumental in getting the novice riders up to speed.

Clearwater said organising the event, Horses for Hope, had been a military operation.

On day one, the riders and support crew will travel 40km to Greta Valley. After that, they plan to ride 30km a day, arriving in Picton on August 4.

”We’ve got six horses, and we will have three on the road at any one time, so we are alternating them,’’ he said.

”We have farms organised all the way up for the horses to stay, we’ve got a farrier, and our own cook.’’

The group will be joined in Wellington by Vic Tamati, Phil Paikea and Tim Marshall, of Safe Man Safe Family.

By Emma Dangerfield
Published in Stuff
27 July 2020