Face of the day

Patron of Shakti Helen Clark

Patron of Shakti
Helen Clark

Today’s face of the day is Helen Clark who is the Patron of Shakti. I may not share Helen Clark’s politics but I share her support of Shakti. More people need to know of its existence.

A woman close to my family came to New Zealand from Syria many years ago to an arranged marriage. She had never met her groom and neither had her family. She arrived in New Zealand unaware that she had rights and there were people who would protect her. If Shakti had been around then and if she had been aware of it she would have been able to escape instead of being trapped by the fact that she could not speak English and knew no one. Shakti are specially for women, children and families of Asian, African and Middle Eastern origin.

I did not know of Shakti’s existence until I watched an Australian show called Four Corners about Forced marriage. One of the stories was about a group of sisters rescued from forced marriage in New Zealand by their school’s guidance counselor and Shakti. Their story will move you.

Shakti is a national not-for-profit community organisation specialised in the area of women’s development, empowerment and domestic/ family violence intervention, prevention and awareness. We are a specialist provider of culturally competent support services for women, children and families of Asian, African and Middle Eastern origin. Over the years, the support group has grown from the confines of one tiny room to a national umbrella organisation with 7 member organisations in Central, West and South Auckland, Central North Island and South Island.



Shakti is a Women’s Refuge associate member that provides culturally appropriate domestic violence intervention services to women of Asian, African and Middle Eastern origin and their children regardless of age, immigration status, religion and sexual orientation. The Shakti Crisisline is 0800 SHAKTI or 0800 742 584, and it’s free to phone from both landlines and cell-phones.

Domestic violence is against the law in New Zealand. This means all women living in New Zealand have the right to:

leave a violent relationship
provide a safe home environment for their children
say ‘no’ if they don’t want to do something
work and study, depending on immigration or citizenship status.

In addition to the more commonly known types of domestic violence, some Asian, African and Middle Eastern women may experience these additional forms:
Marital rape
The use of immigration as a tool of power and control
Honour-based violence
Forced and underage marriage
Dowry abuse
Community pressure
How Shakti can help you

Shakti Community Council Inc. and its member organisations have a national Crisisline you can call for help and advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Phone 0800 SHAKTI or 0800 742 584 free from landlines and cellphones. In an emergency phone the police on 111.

Shakti has four refuges in New Zealand: two in Auckland, one in Tauranga and one in Christchurch and has drop-in centres in Wellington and Dunedin.

We offer outreach services and drop-in support for women who don’t require refuge accommodation. Phone and make a time to meet an advocate from Shakti. She will talk to you about your options, and ask you what you would like to do, and together you can make a plan. She will never tell you what to do or force you to take a step that you don’t feel is right for you.

All information you provide is confidential. Even if our advocate is from the same ethnic community as you, you can be sure that she will not disclose your details to others from your community or religious organisation.

And if you do need emergency accommodation, you can choose to go to one of Shakti’s refuges or your local Women’s Refuge. In a Shakti refuge we will try and ensure that you have your own room. We also try to ensure that you have access to food that you are familiar with; for example, Muslim women will have access to halal meat and halal cooking utensils.

Our staff and volunteers speak a number of Asian, African and Middle Eastern languages. If you’re not comfortable speaking in English, we will find someone who speaks your language and can interpret for you. All Shakti interpreters are required to sign confidentiality agreements and if the interpreter found is not a Shakti staff member or volunteer, we will check that you’re comfortable with this person before using her service.

Other services provided at Shakti centres include:

counselling and legal advocacy services
positive parenting programmes
educational programmes for women, such as English language classes
driver licensing
career development
NZQA accredited programmes for migrants and refugees (Auckland)
Shakti Youth Servicesawareness and training programme for community advocates/volunteers.

Shakti member organisations

Shakti Asian Women’s Centre Inc – Auckland (Onehunga and North Shore)
Shakti Asian Women’s Safehouse Inc. (two refuges) – Auckland
Shakti Legal Advocacy & Family Social Services Inc. – Auckland (includes Shakti Youth Unit and Legal Unit)
Shakti Education Training & Advisory Company (SETAC), an NZQA registered training and education provider – Auckland
Shakti Ethnic Women’s Support Group Central Region Inc.
Shakti Ethnic Women’s Support Group Christchurch Inc.

Phone 0800 SHAKTI or 0800 742 584 to make contact with these organisations. We are also in the process of establishing a centre in Wellington.

Migrant and refugee women in New Zealand can also refer to the government’s Office of Ethnic Affairs for information and support, including a free telephone interpreting service for 41 languages.
Bring Back Kate Campaign Resources
Need help now?

Call 111 or
0800 refuge
(0800 733 843)



If you would like to help you can donate through:

Direct Deposit: Shakti Community Council Inc (Donations)
ANZ Branch, Mt Roskill Branch
Account Number: 01-0183-0243434-03


Shakti also welcomes volunteers and student placements.

If you cannot donate time or money they need beds, bed linen, duvets, kitchen ware, groceries, sanitary products and toiletries.

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If you agree with me that’s nice but what I really want to achieve is to make you question the status quo. Look between the lines, do your own research. Do not be a passive observer in this game we call life.