Family bus draws attention to issue

Chris and Erinna Lane with their sons (anti-clockwise from bottom left ) Noah (10), Lachie (8),...
Chris and Erinna Lane with their sons (anti-clockwise from bottom left ) Noah (10), Lachie (8), Theo (6) and Joshua (10) are travelling the country talking about child abuse and making a documentary. PHOTO: GERARD O'BRIEN
When the Lane family arrive in a town in their big yellow bus, they do not look like typical child-abuse campaigners.

The family, film-makers Erinna and Chris and their four children aged between 6 and 10, left their home in Te Awamutu a year ago to travel all over New Zealand, filming for their child abuse awareness project, Stop the Bus.

``We have four main objectives: to promote the wellbeing of children in New Zealand, to educate people of harm reduction groups, to benefit community groups helping the vulnerable and to inspire members of the public to make a difference in their communities,'' Mrs Lane said.

``It sounds a lot but it just takes a little bit from all of us.''

The family was in Dunedin last week to talk with family violence and student group leaders.

They were trying to send a hopeful message, and the brightly coloured bus helped.

``When we come to towns in a bus like this, it's very noticeable, and we really want to open this conversation right up.

``When we think about child abuse, it is easy to think `that's none of my business', to ignore it and concentrate on other things.''

Cases like Moko Rangitoheriri, who was beaten to death aged 3 in 2015, received a lot of publicity, but Mrs Lane saw the general welfare of children as something not often talked about.

``This project is less about child abuse and more about how we value children, and how we manage to prioritise them in our busy lives.''

While travelling around various towns, the Lanes have interviewed a wide range of people, from the children's commissioner, to whoever was curious enough to approach the bus.

Mrs Lane said there were a few challenges with the whole family living in the bus, but the advantages far outweighed the difficulties.

``I think having the kids around makes the atmosphere more relaxed and people we talk to are more conversational.

``The kids have had so many firsts, like touching snow and learning to fish. New Zealand has such an amazing backyard.

``My hope for them is they will see how different people's lives are.

``I don't think any of us will be the same.''

Timaru was next on their itinerary and they had a few months left on the road before returning to Te Awamutu.



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