Our patron and kuia
“The welfare of women and children has been close to my heart for many years, particularly after delivering some of the horror stories in our news bulletins. The science of brain development tells us how damaging exposure to domestic violence is for the brains of young children. It also tells us that being surrounded by violence is just as bad as actually being hit. I wholeheartedly support the work of Women’s Refuge to provide services that help women and children escape violence in their lives.”
Judy Bailey ONZM
Patron of Women’s Refuge
“I have been involved with Women’s Refuge for more than 30 years. I have seen it at the grass-root level and how important our work is for whanau. Our advocates work tirelessly to help wahine and tamariki deal with and escape domestic violence in their lives 24/7. We answer calls, we meet up in cafes and our community rooms throughout New Zealand. I want to see this movement grow and continue to provide this service into the future.
Women’s Refuge is so important, as we are often the only face out there when our families are devastated by violence with nowhere to go. Our houses and community offices are there for women and offer a non-judgemental safe space to talk and receive help. But more importantly we do major work in rebuilding families.
There is a huge amount of work going on out there and I am proud to support not only the workers of Women’s Refuge but also the thousands of women, children and tane they work with in the community.
“Kōrero tahi, mahi a te mahi. Ahakoa te hara, aroha ki te tangata.”
Nancy Mihaka (Ngati Pikiao – Rotorua; Te Arawa; Ngati Kahu; Nga puhi)
Kuia of Women’s Refuge
Our ambassadors & Spokesperson
I grew up in Otara, South Auckland, one of seven children. We didn’t have overly much but we were always well fed, well clothed and well loved. I was a happy child and music was my passion and inspiration from a very young age.
There was no domestic violence in our home but I saw it around me in some of my schoolmates and their families… it seemed like a normal part of life. As my parents didn’t get involved, I had no idea what was really going on behind closed doors.
Looking back at my childhood and teenage years, I was always fascinated by my great Aunt, the late Dame Mira Szaszy. Aunty Mira spent her adult life devoted to Maori education and the promotion of the role of Maori women. She worked closely with Dame Whina Cooper in the newly formed Maori Women’s Welfare League in the 1950s, became League President in the 1970s and was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1990.
By 1990, I began to appreciate the depth of Aunty Mira’s passion to educate and support, in particular, mothers and families. In 2001 when she passed away I realised that I had missed my chance and opportunity to learn from her knowledge and great wisdom. I had been too busy building a stellar music career.
At this point in my life, I have never been more inspired to help and support the work of the women behind and the women leading the Women’s Refuge movement. In a twist of fate I had a glimpse of this stark reality in 2004, when I played Beth Heke in the stage musical version of Once Were Warriors. This experience took me way out of my comfort zone and I ended the show feeling like I’d been through hell. That was just the result of acting – nothing like the reality.
I approached NZ Women’s Refuge in October 2013 because I wholeheartedly support and respect the work being done by Women’s Refuges around New Zealand. As my gift to Women’s Refuge, I have written and recorded a song and music video, titled ‘Walk Away’. I’m privileged and honored to have be an ambassador for NZ Women’s Refuge and I will do my very best to fulfill this role with pride and integrity.
Ambassador of Women’s Refuge
“The welfare of women and children has been close to my heart for many years, particularly after delivering some of the horror stories
in our news bulletins. The science of brain development tells us how damaging exposure
to domestic violence is for the brains of young children. It also tells us that being surrounded by violence is just as bad as actually being hit.
I wholeheartedly support the work of
Women’s Refuge to provide services that help women and children escape violence in their lives.”
Women’s Refuge is excited to announce that Ruben Wiki has joined us as an Ambassador to support our work to end domestic violence.
Ruben is passionate about speaking out and will actively encourage all men to stop violence against women.
“We need to make this everyone’s problem. We need to speak out when we see things that are not OK and we need to be able to help people find the right help when they need it. Violence can’t be ignored” he said.
Ruben speaks from personal experience “I grew up in a house where my mother was beaten by her partner (not my father) and I know how scary that can be”.
Welcome Ruben, we look forward to doing some great work together!
Ambassador of Women’s Refuge
More than a quarter of the women who use refuge services are 25 years or younger. Ceri, our Campaign spokeswoman this year shows that while age can make you vulnerable, it is never too late to get help.
If Ceri McVinnie had been asked at the end of her private secondary school education whether, in a couple of years’ time she would find herself in an abusive relationship, she would have laughed and said “never in a million years”. Yet this is exactly what happened to this thoughtfully spoken, intelligent and determined young woman.
Ceri left high school and went to University where she met her ex-partner. It took six months for the abuse to start, but when it did, Ceri was so frightened she went straight to the Police, immediately leaving town and back to her family.
A few months later, after his promises to change, she forgave her boyfriend and agreed to try again. What followed was two years of emotional and physical abuse. Increasingly isolated from friends and family, Ceri eventually pulled out of University. She describes her relationship as one of “walking on egg shells” never knowing what would set him off and what any given day would hold.
One day, the attack on her was so significant Ceri thought she would die. She left and has never looked back. The 24 year old is now working in Auckland as a pre-school teacher while she studies to complete her Bachelor of Teaching degree. She has gained confidence and started to mend her broken self-esteem through her great job and by becoming involved in beauty pageants and modelling.
With courage and a deep desire to make a difference, Ceri has agreed to front the 2015 Women’s Refuge Awareness and Appeal campaign – making a stand against violence to women. Her message is simple – “you don’t have to live like this”. Ceri wants young women to learn about domestic violence and if it is happening to them, to reach out and talk to anyone that will listen and help. We think many New Zealanders will be touched by Ceri’s story.
Spokesperson of Women’s Refuge