Launch of first Women’s Refuge with Animal Shelter in New Zealand

12 Novemeber 2012

A Women’s Refuge safe house with a difference was opened in the Wellington region today.

The Porirua refuge Te Whare Tiaki Wahine, with the help of Housing NZ, recently moved to a new six bedroom safe house in the Porirua region and is the first Women’s Refuge to have an animal shelter on site.

“A recent research report called Pets as Pawns Pets as Pawns confirmed what we knew about the link between animal abuse and DV with one in three women saying they delayed leaving a violent relationship because of pets in the family,” says refuge Manager Caroline Herewini.

“We have noticed a steady increase of women who come to us with their pets. So when we knew we could move into this new safe house, we decided to see if we could have something special for rabbits, guinea pig, dogs and cats.”

Hutches, a dog run and a small shelter are in the process of being installed to make sure that if a woman needs it, she, alongside her children and pets can have shelter from Women’s Refuge. “Not all refuges are able to provide an on site service, but we are working closely with our local SPCA’s to provide a service to women who need it in other areas of New Zealand,” says Women’s Refuge Chief Executive Heather Henare.

Te Whare Tiaki Wahine has a 30 year history of providing safety to women and children in the Porirua region and is one of two in the area. “Thousands of women and children have needed to come to our safe house but we also help women living in the community to seek help if they are in a violent relationship,” says Ms Herewini.

Every night in New Zealand an average of 224 women and children as so unsafe in their own homes, they need to use a Women’s Refuge safe house.

The home was opened by Hon Phil Heatley Minister for Housing this afternoon. “Women’s Refuge do a fantastic job supporting women and children in crisis, and now taking an extra step here, to look after pets as well as people. This removes a major worry for those who feel they can’t leave their pets in a violent home,” he said.

“Around the country Housing New Zealand rents 57 properties to the National Women’s Refuge Collective. I’m very pleased that we’re able to help them with the great work they do.”

Ms Herewini says, “with a safe house that is high quality, spacious and safe for our wahine, we feel confident of keeping on for another 30 years service in this community.”

Media assistance: Sue Lytollis, 027 322 4688