When I first started blogging, over a year ago now, there were some sickening cases of abuse in the newspapers in New Zealand. One of the comments I made, here and here, was that I would believe that New Zealanders were commited to ending domestic violence against women and children when the All Blacks started donating their 'Player of the Match' awards to Women's Refuge. Only when the macho rugby union heroes of New Zealand (not my heroes, you will understand) stand up, in public, and make it very, very clear that giving the bash to the missus and the kids is completely and utterly wrong, will I start to think that perhaps a cultural change might be underway. So far, it hasn't happened.
However, it turns out that rugby league star Ruben Wiki is a long time donor to Women's Refuge. Ruben, you're a champion.
But as the NZ Herald reports, there's a problem.
Wiki had wanted to donate some of the proceeds from a $170-a-head gala luncheon held in Auckland in his honour last week to Women's Refuge, but organisers put the kibosh on that proposal because of a potential conflict with the event's main sponsor, Radio Sport.
Radio Sport used to employ Tony Veitch, the blokey sports presented who has just resigned from his jobs, because he 'lashed out' (his words), and allegedly pushed his former partner down the stairs, kicked in the back, so hard that some vertebrae were cracked or broken, and then left her there for a while before getting medical help for her.
(The details are here, commentary on Veitch's non-apology is here, there's a lengthy discussion here (over 1000 comments, on the most reasoned of the big NZ blogs), and a bit more here from another thread at the same venue. And Hand Mirror writers have addressed other aspects of the whole sickening issue here and here and here and here.)
Lovely. So now, not only has some very serious harm been done this Tony Veitch's former partner, but now his former employer is so concerned, not about domestic violence but about their own image, that they won't even tolerate donations being given to Women's Refuge, the people who work at the coalface. The thing is, it wouldn't even have been tokenistic for them to be involved in this, to enable Ruben Wiki to give some of the money raised to Women's Refuge. Wiki has apparently been donating to them for years.
Wiki declined to speak to the Herald on Sunday about the controversy, but it is understood that over the years he has been a regular contributor to the coffers of Women's Refuge.
So what's going on here? Is Radio Sport so desperate to protect their former star that they won't even let a real sportsman, someone who doesn't just talk the talk but gets out there and plays the game and does so stunningly well (apparently - I don't follow league, or indeed any sports at all, but the man has captained the Kiwis so I'm guessing that he's a rather good player) continue doing what he has done for years. Are they not prepared to countenance doing anything at all that might help to repair the damage done by domestic violence?
Maybe it's an employment or judicial matter. Any explanations would be welcomed. In the meantime, I have a sour taste in my mouth. Again.