Responses to the 'Roast Busters'

Mon 04 Nov 2013

Media reporting on a group of Auckland young men calling themselves the ‘Roast Busters’ has sparked widespread discussion about rape, consent ...


Media reporting on a group of Auckland young men calling themselves the ‘Roast Busters’ has sparked widespread discussion about rape, consent and young people. The responses below highlight issues in the wider culture and systems responses to sexual violence. It is being regularly updated (most recent information at the end).

University of Auckland academic Nicola Gavey writes about rape culture and the connection between sexual violence and a wider cultural tolerance of misogyny: "Reading their arrogant misogynist bravado and knowing what it is claimed they have done to girls, it is difficult not to find them despicable. It would be comforting if we could believe that they were mad or bad individuals, because it is more manageable to think about how we can fix that. At the same time, it’s clear that they are part of a community in which they are not universally seen as 'beyond the pale'."

Green Party MP Jan Logie blogged about the ways rape is talked about and prosecuted and asked Judith Collins in Parliament if she would now consider an alternative trial process for sexual abuse cases. This followed Police statements that girls targeted by the ‘Roast Busters’ have not been "brave enough" to bring a complaint. Judith Collins shelved recommendations by the Law Commission to make the legal system less traumatising and revictimising for sexual abuse survivors in 2012.

Green party co-leader Metiria Turei wrote to Police Minister Anne Tolley to ask for action on the Law Commission's recommendations. She also wants joint ministerial responsibility between Police and the Ministry of Justice on the issue established, and a cross-party group of MPs to look at issues raised by the 'Roast Busters'. Judith Collins wrote about what she and the Ministry of Justice is doing in the NZ Herald and on TVNZ's Q+A, including a paper going to Cabinet. Associate Professor of law Elisabeth McDonald spoke in detail about victim/survivors' experiences and the prosecution of sexual violence on Radio NZ. Jan Logie blogged about the failure to make changes beyond "inadequate window dressing" as well as the need for increased funding for education and support services.

On 26 November, Judith Collins announced some changes around the giving of evidence in sexual offence cases. Jan Logie welcomed the changes but called them "baby steps", saying "The reforms that she has announced, while a positive step, are not going to achieve the change that New Zealanders are crying out for and would not, for example, have made prosecuting the so called 'Roast Busters' group any more likely."

Labour's Women's Affairs spokeswoman Carol Beaumont also raised the recommendations on the legal system and questioned what was being done to change the culture that meant teenage boys thought this sort of behaviour to young women was acceptable. "Those providing services that seek to prevent sexual violence or to assist survivors of sexual violence continue to face funding constraints. There are at least three Government ministers who have a stake in this – Police Minister Anne Tolley, Ms Collins, and Minister of Women's Affairs Jo Goodhew. In light of these ghastly revelations they need to ask some hard questions and then take some action." Ministerial responsibility for the sexual violence sector was taken on by Paula Bennett in February this year.

Calls have also been made for sexuality education / sexual violence prevention programmes in schools addressing sexual ethics, violence, consent, myths around rape and bystander interventions. Rape Prevention Education talked about the "worrying attitudes" they encounter when delivering their BodySafe sexual violence prevention programme in schools. A 2012 stocktake of primary prevention activities in New Zealand found that the specialist sexual violence sector has developed a range of primary prevention programmes but government funding was needed to develop capacity, capability, resources and infrastructure.

Current and former students of the school many of the 'Roast Busters' go to or went to have written an open letter to their school and spoke at the march in Auckland on 16 November 2013.

The President of the School Trustees Association president Lorraine Kerr, chairman of the Secondary Principals' Council Allan Vester and vice-president of the Secondary Principals' Association Michael Williams had said in the media that the issue was a concern for schools but also talked about their "powerlessness" or limited ability to affect students' behaviour outside school hours. In contrast, internationally whole-of-school approaches to sexual violence prevention have been utilised, including staff training/professional development, school policies, respectful relationships curriculum, train the trainer, peer educator programmes and ongoing evaluation. Specialist agencies called for the Government to make sexual violence prevention education mandatory in high schools, saying "Does the school's responsibility end at the gate? We say no. It is part of the responsibility of giving education."

The New Zealand Herald reported on condemnation of the victim-blaming in a Radio Live interview with a friend of one of victims of the 'Roast Busters' (content warning: victim-blaming). A social media campaign led to station sponsors pulling their advertising from the show. Hosts John Tamihere and Willie Jackson were then taken off air for the rest of 2013, in response to the comments they made. Jackson was later reinstated while Mr Tamihere's contract was not renewed. On 23 December 2013, John Tamahere filed a lawsuit alleging breach of contract and defamation over his exit from the company. He is seeking damages of over $620,000.

Wellington Rape Crisis and Helen Sullivan from the Wellington Sexual Abuse HELP Foundation outlined changes they believe need to be made in preventing and responding to sexual violence.

In contrast to statements first provided by the Police, Police confirmed that they received a formal complaint from a 13 year old who said she was raped by the 'Roast Busters' in 2011, after the young woman spoke out on TV 3. Three other young women made informal complaints. Police Minister Anne Tolley has asked the Independent Police Complaints Authority to investigate the Police handling of the 'Roast Busters'.

The failure of New Zealand Police to implement many of the 60 recommendations identifying systemic issues and behavioural patterns within the police 6 years after their release has also been highlighted.

Police investigating the 'Roast Busters' have launched a phone line: 0800 OP CLOVER (0800 672 568). They are encouraging anyone who wishes to speak to the enquiy team to call.

A multi-agency investigation involving the police, Child Youth and Family, the Ministry of Education and ACC has been launched to investigate the group of boys/young men involved.

Thousands of people marched at events in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hamilton and others centres on Saturday 16 November.

An online petition calling for the Prime Minister to make changes ensuring justice for rape victim/survivors reached 100,000 signatures on 17 November and was delivered to Parliament on 21 November 2013.

The National Council of Women said the response of the authorities has been "too little and lacking in focus" and called for the Government to take action.

Parliament's Health Committe has released its report on improving health outcomes for children and preventing child abuse. Its recommendations include that the Government develop a "co-ordinated cross-sectoral action plan with the objective of giving New Zealand world-leading, best-practice evidence-based sexuality and reproductive health education" alongside other measures to improve sexual and reproductive health.

Auckland HELP and Tu Wahine have published new research on the needs of young people affected by sexual abuse and assault.

The Families Commission have released a review of New Zealand and international evidence on relationship education programmes in schools.

Equal Opportunity Commissioner and former MP Jackie Blue wrote about the urgent need for the reinstatement of the National Sexual Violence Prevention Plan stopped in 2009, so there is a co-ordinated approach. She also wrote about the importance of changes in what we do as individuals, families and communities.

Update: Information gathered during the investigation in to the Roast Busters case is to be legally reviewed. Dectective Inspector Karyn Malthus said "This is a complex investigation and any decision relating to prosecution will not be taken lightly. We are, understandably, working closely with our legal team in this regard." The dedicated phone line 0800 Operation Clover remains open for anyone who would like to speak to the Police team.


Other resources:

Information about sexual violence, including primary prevention (preventing violence before it occurs), is available on the TOAH-NNEST website.

The Sex'n'Respect website (by Auckland's Rape Prevention Education) provides lots of information on respectful sex and relating for young people.

Sex & Ethics is a sexual violence prevention programme delivered by Wellington's Sexual Abuse Prevention Network.

Who are you? is a New Zealand toolkit for sexual violence prevention work with young people (including bystander interventions around alcohol).

Radio NZ's youth site 'The Wireless' includes a self-care list for young people.

Get support:

Contact details for specialist sexual violence agencies around the country are available on the TOAH-NNEST website.

Further links are being added to this page as they become available.


Roast Busters information to undergo legal review - police, NZ Herald, 05.05.2014

Roast Busters investigation still months away – IPCA, NZ Herald, 19.03.14

Tamihere's $600k lawsuit could take place privately, NZ Herald, 19.03.14

Police urged to improve victim support, NZ Herald, 22.02.14

Tamihere put heat on advertisers, NZ Herald, 06.02.14

Tamihere v MediaWorks: 'This is a dangerous precedent', National Business Review, 05.02.14

Roast Busters 'Amy' interview ruled acceptable, NZ Herald, 05.02.14

Roast Busters fallout: Talkback host sues for $620,000, NZ Herald, 04.02.14

Rape Crisis responds to Hales article, Radio NZ, 31.01.14

Roast Buster says he's 'most hated in NZ' thanks to media, NZ Herald, 31.01.14

Sex education lagging: poll, NZ Herald, 30.12.13

Latest rape case underlines need for action – Beaumont, Voxy, 25.01.14

Roast Busters: Police tight-lipped on progress, NZ Herald, 23.01.14

Dispelling rape myths with respect, Stuff, 08.01.14

Helpine calls double after sex ring case, Radio NZ, 02.01.14

Careful process to build jigsaw for conviction, Stuff, 15.12.13

Roast Busters: Sex scandal prompts increase in calls for help, NZ Herald, 15.12.13

Abuse support calls increase after Roast Busters scandal, 3 News, 15.12.13

Police Commissioner grilled over Roast Busters, NZ Herald, 12.12.13

Police admit more support for sex abuse victims needed, Radio NZ, 10.12.13

Sexual violence victims need better police treatment, 3 News, 10.12.13

Better system will deliver justice, Stuff, 08.12.13

Torn to pieces by the system, Stuff, 08.12.13

Rape in NZ: Join the debate, Stuff, 08.12.13

Rape culture focus of forum, NZ Herald, 06.12.13

Sex ed shortfall, Stuff, 04.12.13

Rapper's 'horrible' music upsets, The Press, 02.12.13

Metro apologises for rape 'joke', NZ Herald, 01.12.13

Call to look anew at rape 'consent', Stuff, 27.11.13

Justice Minister’s baby steps for victims of sexual violence, Press release: Green Party, Scoop, 26.11.13

Proposal for sexual abuse victims approved, NZ Herald, 26.11.13

Sex attack evidence laws to change, Stuff, 26.11.13

Reforms to protect sexual assault victims, child witnesses, Beehive: Judith Collins, 26.11.13

Jackie Blue: Police can't stop abuse alone, Dominion Post, 25.11.13

Justice for victims of sexual violence – Law Commission Report, Green Party frogblog: Jan Logie, 25.11.13

Broadcasters slammed for feeding roastbusters, Voxy, 25.11.13

Roast Busters: March against violence towards women, NZ Herald, 24.11.13

Concerns over primary school sex ed, 3 News, 23.11.13

Abuse victims blame themselves, NZ Herald, 23.11.13

Sexual abuse amongst teens goes unreported – study, TV 3, 22.11.13

Justice for victims of sexual violence – justice, Green Party frogblog: Jan Logie, 22.11.13

Justice for victims of sexual violence –funding, Green Party frogblog: Jan Logie, 21.11.13

Roast Busters petition delivered to Parliament, NZ Herald, 21.11.13

Roast Busters petition handed to MPs, Stuff, 21.11.13

Rosemary McLeod: Despite sexual abuse, nothing changes , Stuff, 21.11.13

What can be done about rape culture? Dr Deborah Russell, Massey University, 20.11.13

Unicef NZ calls for spotlight on violence against kids, Voxy, 20.11.13

Calls for more sexual violence education, TV3, 19.11.13

Police defend sexual abuse investigations, 3 News, 19.11.13

Sexual Violence: Action is needed NOW!, Press release: National Council of Women, Scoop, 18.11.13

Urgent change to rape laws demanded, Radio NZ, 18.11.13

Rape culture a 'national health crisis', 3 News, 18.11.13

Square protest against rape culture, Manawatu Standard, 18.11.13

Bryce Edwards: Political roundup: 20 questions, NZ Herald, 18.11.13

Catton criticises CK Stead on Roast Busters comments, NZ Herald, 17.11.13

Author joins rape culture protest, Stuff, 17.11.13

Private case possible over Roast Busters, 3 News, 17.11.13

Society at tipping point over 'rape culture' – Minister, NZ Herald, 17.11.13

Judith Collins on the Roast Busters case, Q+A, TV One, 17.11.13

Justice Minister Judith Collins is considering a draft cabinet paper on changes to processes for victims of sexual violence,  NZ City, 17.11.13

Roast Busters: Protests today aim to 'bust rape culture', NZ Herald, 16.11.13

Nationwide marches against sex boasts, Radio NZ, 16.11.13

Rallies for justice for victims of sexual violence, Media release: Green Party, 16.11.13

Labour joins in demand for an end to sexual violence, Press Release: New Zealand Labour Party, Scoop, 16.11.13

Roast Busters: When people power works, NZ Herald, 16.11.13

Thousands march against rape, victims' treatment, TV One News, 16.11.13

Thousands march in Roast busters protests, Stuff, 16.11.13

Silent march to protest rape culture, Waikato Times, 15.11.13

'Keeping legs together' doesn't stop rape, Stuff, 15.11.13

Abuse blog draws dozens of posts, Radio NZ, 15.11.13

Roast Busters scandal: Police chief admits mistakes, NZ Herald, 15.11.13

Social media raises over $11k for Rape Prevention Education, Press Release: Rape Crisis, 15.11.13

NZ dragging chain on sex abuse cases, Stuff, 15.11.13

Peaceful protest, Hamilton News, 14.11.13

Roast Busters: Police set up phone line, NZ Herald, 13.11.13

Free phone line set up over teen sex ring, Radio NZ, 13.11.13

Law with Elisabeth McDonald - Rape prosecutions, Radio NZ, 13.11.13

Roast Busters scandal: Jackson steps down from Radio Waatea, NZ Herald, 13.11.13

Former RadioLIVE advertisers donate to timely cause, 3 News, 12.11.13

Govt eyes school lessons to stop rape, NZ Herald, 12.11.13

Protest rallies planned over teen sex case, Radio NZ, 12.11.13

Judith Collins: Sex offenders must face up to actions, NZ Herald, 12.11.13

Govt eyes school lessons to stop rape, NZ Herald, 12.11.13

Woman leads Roast Busters police case, NZ Herald, 12.11.13

Cunliffe 'not in a hurry' to sign Tamihere as a candidate, NZ Herald, 12.11.13

Roast Busters scandal: Misogynistic attitudes 'endemic' in NZ, NZ Herald, 11.11.13

Today in politics: Monday, November 11, Stuff, 11.11.13

Katie Fitzpatrick: Quality sex education vital for schools, NZ Herald, 11.11.13

White Ribbon campaign targets 'Roast Busters' attitudes, TVNZ, 11.11.13

Willie, JT off-air over Roast Busters comments, TVNZ, 11.11.13

Roast Busters highlight need for education - Longley, TVNZ, 11.11.13

Roast Busters: RadioLive hosts taken off air, NZ Herald, 11.11.13

What's wrong with our rape laws?, Stuff, 10.11.13

Friends of Roast Busters speak out, Stuff, 10.11.13

Judith Collins: Girls dress to fit in, not for Willie and JT, NZ Herald, 10.11.13

Roast Busters: Young sex braggart does vanishing act, NZ Herald, 10.11.13

Roast Busters: Girls hit back with online campaigns, NZ Herald, 9.11.13

Tahu Potiki: Roast Busters not a new phenomenon, The Press, 8.11.13

Waikato leaders condemn 'Roast Busters', Waikato Times, 8.11.13

Doctors urge victims of sexual assault to seek help, Voxy, 8.11.13

Women's Refuge challenges NZ’s victim blaming culture, Scoop, 8.11.13

Rebecca Kamm: What we can learn from Roast Busters, NZ Herald, 8.11.13

Roast Busters: More advertising pulled from RadioLive. NZ Herald, 8.11.13

Fighting back against the Roast Busters, 3 News, Campbell Live, 8.11.13

The Roastbusters and sexual violence - A comment from Helen Sullivan, Wellington Sexual Abuse HELP Foundation, 8.11.13

Catriona MacLennan: Police force fails NZ's women ... again, NZ Herald, 8.11.13

Panel discusses issues raised by Roastbusters case: Marama Davidson, Dr Kim McGregor and Russell Smith, Radio NZ, 8.11.13

Wellington Rape Crisis statement on Roastbusters and police, Scoop, 7.11.13

Roastbusters, rape culture and the problem of criminality, Scoop: Anne Russell, 7.11.13

Roast Busters: Columnist walks out on radio hosts, NZ Herald, 7.11.13

Professor: Police must explain Roast Busters inaction, Stuff, 7.11.13

IPCA asked to investigate, NZ Herald, 7.11.13

Minister orders Roast Busters inquiry, 3 News, 7.11.13

Independent inquiry into Roast Busters sex case, Stuff, 7.11.13

Police admit they received four complaints about Roastbusters, Radio NZ Nine to Noon, 7.11.13

Sexual abuse convictions rare - expert, 3 News, 7.11.13

Roast Busters victim asked to 're-enact' alleged rape, 3 News, 6.11.13

Jackson, Tamihere apologise after 'Roast Busters' interview, NZ Herald, 6.11.13

Facebook exploits may be shock to many school heads, Morning Report, Radio NZ, 6.11.2013

Roast Busters' victims need space to come forward - Nicholas, One News, TVNZ, 5.11.2013

Site claims Roast Busters link, NZ Herald, 6.11.2013

Roast Busters: Radio show hosts 'victim blaming', NZ Herald, 5.11.2013

Friend of an alleged Roast Busters victim calls Willie & JT - Audio, RadioLive, 5.11.2013

Roast Busters actions defended, 3News, TV3, 5.11.2013

Police reject 'Roast Busters' bias, Otago Daily Times, 5.11.2013

Roast Busters: New vigilante group promises justice, NZ Herald, 5.11.2013

Minister says police focused on Roast Busters, Fairfax NZ News, 5.11.2013

Roast Buster accused bragged about group sex, Fairfax NZ News, 5.11.2013

Officer's son linked to Roast Busters group, Radio NZ, 5.11.2013

'Roast Busters' compared to Mongrel Mob, Black Power, 3News, TV3, 5.11.2013

Roast Buster fired from job, 3News, TV3, 5.11.2013

The Roastbusters- rape club and what it tells us about our justice system, Frogblog (Jan Logie), 4.11.2013

Two 'Roast Busters' talk with police, OneNews, TVNZ, 4.11.2013

Failure to halt gang rape astonishing, Scoop, 4.11.2013

Roast Busters' behaviour 'disturbing' - PM, NZ Herald, 04.11.2013

Let's set better examples for our young men - judge, Voxy, 04.11.2013

Police inaction on sex gang 'astonishing', Otago Daily Times, 04.11.2013

Not enough evidence to prosecute 'Roast Busters' - police, One News, 04.11.2013

Roast Busters sex group: Police interview suspects, Stuff, 04.11.2013

 Roast Busters: Police 'frustrated' with lack of complaints, TV 3, 04.11.2013

Police defend lack of 'Roast Busters' action, NZ Herald, 04.11.2013

Roast Busters sex group actions 'absolutely rape', Stuff, 04.11.2013

Police say girls afraid to make formal complaint, Radio NZ, 04.11.2013

'Roast Busters' actions 'seem to be rape' - expert, Otago Daily Times, 04.11.2013

'Roast Busters' part of a growing trend - NetSafe, 3 News, 04.11.2013

Men's sex group concerns police, Stuff, 04.11.2013

Apology over 'Roast Busters' activity, NZ Herald, 04.11.2013

Police powerless to stop young men boasting of filming underage sex, NZ Herald, 03.11.2013

Facebook teen sex shaming exposed, 3 News, 03.11.2013

Image: iStock