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White Ribbon ambassadors who grew up with violence, drugs and gangs aim to break cycle of violence

Violence, drugs and gangs were all Jamie Addison ever knew as a kid.

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Jamie Addison and Takurua Tawera spoke to Breakfast about how they turned their lives around. Source: Breakfast

He's joining others on this year's White Ribbon Ride to remind men that they can turn their violent lives around and break the cycle.

Speaking this morning with TVNZ1's Breakfast programme, Mr Addison and fellow White Ribbon ambassador Takurua Tawera talked about what they are trying to achieve.

"The childhood experiences that I have were being surrounded by addiction and violence," Mr Addison said.

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White Ribbon’s first female ambassador Anna Campbell joins Breakfast to talk about what actions men can take to stand up for woman. Source: Breakfast

"A lot of the male role models in my life turned to alcohol to deal with the daily stresses that were going on for them, and as a result of that aggressive, violent behaviour was displayed.

"Violence towards women - all male role models in my life felt that way and behaved that way."

He said as a kid, it was obviously frightening when his father was violent, and he wondered why that type of behaviour needed to happen.

"For me, entering into my earlier manhood, so to speak, as a young teenager, I was quite confused and angry as to what I thought was normal.

"This aggression and violence was then perpetrated on to those around me - including women."

Mr Tawera said that children can often suppress emotions, which can lead to them struggling to moderate their moods and thinking that it's normal to be angry.

"Always being reactive to what people say - I guess that's part of that conditioning that happens to young people," he said.

"White Ribbon's key messages are to challenge those types of old mindsets and to encourage families to be a lot more loving and caring - and help young boys to be engaged with their emotion so that they can moderate when they get older."

The White Ribbon Ride is a week-long motorcycle tour which takes place each year in November to spread the message of non-violence.

Watch the full interview above.