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The impossible task: How New Zealand plans to tackle violence without maligning men

A new strategy aims to eliminate family and sexual violence without even using the word “perpetrator”. Will a plan focusing on healing and prevention be enough to turn our appalling statistics around?

OPINION: If ever there was a poisoned chalice in politics, it was the job awarded to Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson following the 2020 general election.

As the minister of family and sexual violence, Davidson was supposed to co-ordinate the heads of 10 government departments assigned to an inter-agency group called the “joint venture”; to get the sector and tangata whenua on board; and create a national strategy to combat one of New Zealand’s most entrenched social issues, immediately.

At that point, work on the national plan had just gone down in flames. A draft, worked on by a group of expert Māori practitioners, had been rejected by the ministers involved as “too Māori” and not detailed enough, and it was tossed out. Māori were, understandably, furious. People from the wider sector who had given hours of time in consultation were despondent.

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