Full throttle . . . White Ribbon riders (from left) Blair McKenzie, Vicki Wilson and Jenny Galbraith show off their motorbikes to Longford Intermediate pupils (from left) Milla Nicholson (11), Blake Burr (12), Narisha Honeyman (13), Tex Andrews (12), Louis (11) and Nia Woodford (13) and Heidi Lucassen (11) at the Gore multisport complex on Tuesday. Joining them is Gore Police Sergeant Jason Leadley. PHOTO: MICHAEL CURREEN

Despite their tough-looking persona, school pupils found the White Ribbon riders to be a caring and supportive bunch.

The group rode into Gore on their motorbikes on Tuesday, attracting 180 pupils from Longford Intermediate School to their anti-violence event at the multisport complex.

The visit was part of the riders’ annual White Ribbon ride through the South Island to promote healthy masculinity, Gore and Clutha Women’s Refuge interim manager Talia McConnell said.

‘‘The campaign this year is called ‘boys will be boys’.’’

The riders were challenging that phrase as an excuse for poor behaviour.

‘‘It’s also about flipping the script — boys will be caring, boys will be supportive, boys will be respectful.’’

The Longford Intermediate kapa haka group welcomed the riders, who were joined by members of the police and Women’s Refuge to promote their message of healthy relationships and share their own experiences.

Rapid Relief Team members were on the barbecue, keeping everyone well-fed and hydrated.

Ms McConnell said the event highlighted to the pupils that any sort of violence was unacceptable and they had the power to stop it.

‘‘They can call out that behaviour. They don’t have to just sit and accept what someone else is saying.

‘‘You can speak out and ask for help, even if you’re a male.

‘‘It’s about breaking the cycle of family violence.’’