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Women’s Refuge in Hamilton needs funds as violence increases

Women’s Refuge in Hamilton needs more funding as the number of serious domestic violence cases increase

18 March 2014

Domestic violence is one of the country’s most serious social issues, and the number of cases we have here in Hamilton is nothing to be proud of. Te Whakaruruhau, Hamilton Women’s Refuge responds to close to 6000 emergency callouts every year and houses between two to three hundred women and children a year in one of their safe houses around the city, making them one of the busiest Women’s Refuges in the country. The emphasis of their service is on whanau wellbeing, working with families to create safe environments.

This service has an impact on our whole community. Breaking the cycle of violence has far reaching consequences delivering benefits to families and the communities they live in. It is therefore to everyone’s advantage to see this service resourced to appropriate levels.

While the service provided by Te Whakaruruhau is life-saving, the resources that they have is not enough to be able meet demand as our population, and the levels of domestic violence in this region grow. During the Christmas period overcrowding of safe houses meant that some women and children were not able to be given the level of care they needed to keep them safe.

Tania, who was once a resident of Te Whakaruruhau safe house, has since left Te Whakaruruhau but continues to work with the advocates there whom she refers to as her sisters.

Tania was born and raised in Auckland but decided to move to Hamilton with her partner to begin her studies at the University of Waikato. After a few months of living in Hamilton, Tania was subjected to physical and psychological abuse. Tania recalls a time where she would hide the bruises on her arms before going to lectures so that other students did not notice them.

When Tania was admitted into Te Whakaruruhau safe house she thought about withdrawing from her studies and returning to Auckland but the advocates from Te Whakaruruhau encouraged her not to give up. Tania continued her studies with the support of the advocates and eventually she moved into her own flat.

In 2007, Tania started working as a Crisis Advocate at Te Whakaruruhau where she worked in the evenings as a crisis advocate and continued her studies during the day. In 2010 Tania graduated with a Bachelor of Law. In 2011 she graduated with a Master of Law and in October 2011 she was admitted to the High Court of Hamilton. Today, Tania is working as a Staff Solicitor in Hamilton specializing in Family Law.

To overcome issues around funding and resources, Te Whakaruruhau are looking at a number of options. This includes: looking to build further relationships in the business sector; expanding community links; creating new ways to deliver services; and looking for further ways to raise funds.

This Thursday, Te Whakaruruhau is holding an art auction in the gallery space at Creative Waikato, with all proceeds raised going solely to Te Whakaruruhau Women’s Refuge services. Esteemed national and local artists’ works will be available to the highest bidder. Well-known artist’s works include Manos Nathan, Robyn Kahukiwa, Buck Nin, John Bevan Ford, Selwyn Muru, Sandy Adsett, Mike Matchitt, and Hohepa Peni.

Auction organizer Marata Hoet says: “I have been overwhelmed by the very generous donations made by all of the artists toward this cause. I have also been humbled by the artwork that has been donated by women who have been past residents of Women’s Refuge. This makes the event very personal and heartfelt. I hope that the community will come out and support this very important fundraising event and be a part of keeping our communities a safer place for the many that need these services”.

The Art Auction will take place on Thursday, March 20, at the Creative Waikato Gallery, 131 Alexandra Street, Hamilton, 6.30pm. Entry is free, and all are welcome to attend.

ENDS

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