Our organisation is structured to be collaborative and inclusive, and we’re committed to parallel development.

The organisation consists of 37 independent refuges delivering services across 41 sites from Kaitaia to Invercargill gathered under one umbrella organisation. This is known as the National Collective of Independent Women’s Refuges Incorporated (NCIWR).

Fourteen of these local refuges are for Māori wahine and tamariki and families, one is for Pasefika women and their children and families, and there is one associate refuge – Shakti – that’s a community organisation for migrant, refugee and ethnic families.

Women’s Refuge is organised into four regions, and the local refuges within these work closely together.

The regions are:

  • Te Hiku o te Ika – Northern
  • Te Puku o te Ika – Central
  • Te Upoko o te Ika – Lower North
  • Te Waka a Maui – Southern.

Core group

The governing body of Women’s Refuge is known as the Te Taumata o Te Kōwhai Core Group.

These eight women form an overarching governing board that makes strategic decisions about how the National Collective of Independent Women’s Refuges operates. It guides our organisation, and is responsible for setting our strategic direction based on the views and needs of refuge members.

The group ensures that Women’s Refuge operates as a truly ‘bottom-up’ organisation. One tangata whenua Māori representative and one tauiwi non-Māori representative from each of the Women’s Refuge’s four regions are represented on the  Te Taumata o Te Kōwhai Core Group.

Our current representatives (clockwise from left) are:

Lyn Buckley
Lower North Tau Iwi

Lenis Davidson
Southern Region Tangata Whenua

Leonette Beasley
Northern Region Tangata Whenua

Wendy Valler
Central Region Tau Iwi

Aleen Henderson
Central Region Tangata Whenua

Oriel Heseltine
Northern Region Tangata Whenua

Ange Cheney
Lower North Tangata Whenua

Rachel Black
Southern Tau Iwi

Local refuges

There are 37 local Women’s Refuges around New Zealand that are members of NCIWR.

We also have one associate member, Shakti, which provides specialist support services to women and children of Asian, African and Middle Eastern origins.

Our refuges are independent. This means that they have their own governance bodies – in some cases it’s a collective, and in other cases it’s a governing board. The refuges also have sub-committees to manage functions like employment, finance and fundraising.

Each refuge usually has two paid employees as well as voluntary advocates. In total we have 988 staff nationwide, made up of 357 paid staff and 631 unpaid or volunteer staff.

Our amazing volunteers are the backbone of our organisation and help provide a 24 hour a day, seven days a week domestic violence service to the women, children and whānau of Aotearoa. They offer counselling, advice and information to women about accessing Women’s Refuges resources, having undergone a broad training programme.

Find the refuge nearest to you.

National office

Located in Wellington, the national office of Women’s Refuge works to meet the needs of refuges around New Zealand.

This support includes training, policy, service development and Māori development. The national office also plays a significant role in raising awareness about domestic violence related issues. This involves responding to legal, social, economic and policy initiatives of the government.

The national office also engages in consultative processes, works across government and non-government sectors, and participates in proactive and reactive media work.

The national office also:

  • advocates for the rights of victims/survivors of domestic violence and domestic violence more generally
  • promotes human rights, and women’s and children’s rights
  • promotes non-violence
  • seeks funding contracts for the refuges
  • develops training programmes
  • trains government and community organisations on domestic and family violence
  • collects and provides information and research on domestic and family violence
  • represents the organisation at various government and community meetings.