Manurewa Marae to host Pink Shirt Day celebration today

By Jessica Tyson

To celebrate the global anti-bullying campaign Pink Shirt Day, an event will be held at Manurewa Marae today featuring music, hip-hop performances, kapa haka and food stalls.

The campaign began in Canada when two teenagers mobilised their whole school to take a stand against homophobic bullying after a fellow student was bullied for wearing a pink shirt.

This year a record 1000 schools and 850 workplaces in New Zealand have signed up to celebrate. There's also a specific Māori and Pasifika community focus to the campaign as Māori and Pasifika youth are over-represented in mental health statistics.

Mental Health Foundation chief executive Shaun Robinson says, "it's inspiring to see more than double the number of schools, workplaces and communities taking a stand to create environments where all New Zealanders, especially our youth, can thrive."

The Mental Health Foundation is receiving support for this year's campaign from people and organisations including the Vodafone Warriors, New Zealand Army and Police, Suzy Cato and Gemma Flynn.

Suzy Cato's always been one of Pink Shirt Day's biggest supporters and says this year is no different. 

"I support Pink Shirt Day quite simply because it brings people together to make a change. We can do anything if we do it together. With aroha, we can put a stop to bullying," she says.

New Zealand rated second-highest for school bullying out of 51 countries, and as many as one in five Kiwis are affected by bullying in the workplace.

The event at Manurewa Marae, run by Te Kaha O Te Rangatahi Trust and Pink Shirt Day Aotearoa, will go from 4.30pm until 8.30pm and is free of charge.