Shakti New Zealand News & Events

We Will Not Back Down. A Survivor’s Story.

August 10, 2017


The year was 2003. Four sisters were ‘brought’ to New Zealand for a ‘better’ future. Imagine those four young girls. Imagine that they were separated from their mother. Imagine they came to New Zealand with their father who they hardly knew. Imagine that the oldest one among them was 16 years old. Imagine that the first thing they remember about New Zealand was getting slapped by their father.

Imagine that they were terrified. Imagine that from September 2003 to November 2003 they were constantly abused. Imagine that they were slapped for no reason, hit for no reason, slaved at their own house for no reason, told that they were not good, forced to eat what they did not want to, forced to not make any friends. Imagine all this.

Imagine that they had no understanding of the world outside their home but they still gathered enough courage to break-free from the violence. Imagine that they were brave and resolved to get help from their school.

I want you to imagine that they ran away from the house in two months of getting here. Imagine that they got in touch with CYFs. Imagine that they were in a motel unsure of the future. Imagine that they were constantly opposed in their decision to leave the abusive household. Imagine that despite of all their fears and anxiety of not facing their father again they were told by the adults that the situation can be mediated by having a ‘meeting’ with their father. Imagine that they were sitting in a room which was grey or that is what they remember it as and their father was sitting across from them. Imagine that he was openly threatening them in their own language right in front of the person who was the mediator. Imagine that they were terrified but had to go back with him because the adults thought that was the best plan of action.

Imagine that they got back home and the whole cycle of abuse continued. Imagine that instead of asking the young people if they are safe, the CYFs asked the father about the progress at home. Imagine that those four young girls had given up on the idea of safety. Imagine that one day their father comes home with a friend and one of the young sister is busy in cooking and forgets to greet him. Imagine he drags her by the hair into the living room and pushes her head into a bean bag suffocating her. Imagine the oldest one who is scared that he might kill his sister stands up to him. Imagine that she gets hit in return and then the cycle of abuse just continues.

Imagine they had lost all hope.

Imagine that they are all ready to die. Imagine that their future looks bleak because they are about to be sent back to Pakistan to get married and live there. Imagine that since the first time they ran away the father had been perplexed and his ego had been hurt. Imagine that since then he has been hatching a plan to get rid of them, to teach them a lesson. Imagine they were ready to be forced into underage marriage.

Imagine they are terrified and do not think that there is any hope left. Imagine that they hear about Shakti. Imagine that they pull all their courage together and put their trust in Shakti for the second time. Imagine that they are treated like adults and were not forced to sit with their father to reconcile. Imagine that they were not told they would go to foster homes as a bid to crush their spirits. Imagine they were immediately removed from their house and placed in a safe house. Imagine that they were protected against their father. Imagine that they were understood. Imagine that they were supported by getting a protection order against him. Imagine that they were supported in getting back into the community.

It is hard to imagine all this but this is what my sisters and I had gone through. If Shakti had not come to our rescue back then I would not be here telling my story. I would be married or perhaps dead. It would not have been the fate of one person but four people. I am not here to criticize the mainstream organisations but emphasizing the importance of having culturally appropriate services for migrants and refugees. My personal experience with a mainstream organisation which displayed a lack of cultural understanding had put all of us at risk.

I have been hearing about Shakti Wellington and that there is no need for it since there are other mainstream organisation which are doing the same “job”. I beg to question the understanding of these people who are thinking in such a way. We, the people of color, may have the same issues, but it is important to understand that a model based on Western understanding of family violence cannot be imposed on us. What you are doing by that is putting us at risk. What would it require before understanding that we need these culturally appropriate services? A forced marriage or a death?

I want you to imagine if there was no Shakti in 2004, four of us would have been either dead or forced into underage marriage.


Mehwish is a longstanding volunteer of Shakti whose ongoing commitment and contribution to our organisation is invaluable. She took on a significant role in writing and putting together the Break Free handbook – a guide by migrant/refugee youth, for migrant/refugee youth escaping violence; A project headed by the Shakti Youth Unit.

Mehwish has specialised in mental health, and works with at risk youth at university. She is currently also completing her Masters focusing on depression and suicide and improving accessibility to support services for those who need it.

Mehwish and her sisters run a website on depression, Your Fight Is Over to connect people who are struggling with invisible issues.


You’re Cordially Invited to our AGM!

August 10, 2017


Shakti AGM Image
















Shakti has been going strong in Aotearoa for 22 years, with a commitment to ending all forms of violence and gender based oppression in the Asian, African and Middle Eastern community, which may be culturally sanctioned or otherwise. We are established nationally with refuges and drop in centres all over New Zealand to ensure members of our community are able to access safety and justice.

Our Wellington refuge has kept its doors open despite systematically being denied government funding over the last 3 years. With over 300 women accessing safety at our refuge in the last year, we resolved to fight for our critical and life saving service to be granted adequate funding and our campaign to Save Shakti Wellington Refuge was launched this March. In light of this campaign for our life saving service necessary to our community in the Wellington region to be sustainably resourced we are holding our 2017 AGM in Wellington.

We are so grateful for the support of the Wellington community, and the support of friends of Shakti from all over Aotearoa who stand beside us in our call for the government to reconsider its decision to deny the Shakti Wellington Refuge funding. We continue to be overwhelmed by the outpour of support from the community which has come in the form of petition signatures, fundraising events, financial donations, endorsements of our campaign, and the warmth and aroha which has be so significant in encouraging and uplifting us in this fight.

We would love to be able to thank you in person, and we would be delighted to have your presence at our 22nd AGM.

Send your RSVPs to [email protected]

We hope to see you there!

VICTORY! New Zealand criminalises forced / under-age marriage!

September 13, 2016

Shakti is very happy with the announcement from John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand, that the government has strengthened the Domestic Violence Act to include the criminalisation of under-age / forced marriage.

This is excellent news for all our Asian, African and Middle Eastern women, young women and children who are at risk of experiencing this human rights abuse.  Shakti would like to thank all our supporters who helped out in this 6-year long campaign.  We make a special mention to our Shakti team members who worked tirelessly, Dr Jackie Blue, Ms Louisa Wall MP, Jane Pritchard from NZ Pacific Women’s Watch, Women’s Refuge NZ as well as our supporters from NZ’s women’s organisations, and NGOs around the country.


Source: New Zealand Herald –

New family violence offences to be created

12:26 PM Tuesday Sep 13, 2016


New family violence offences will be created as part of more than 50 changes to the current Domestic Violence Act.

Prime Minister John Key has announced a raft of changes in a speech to justice sector groups at Te Papa in Wellington.

They include:
• Creating new offences of non-fatal strangulation, coercion to marry, and assault on a family member.
• Making the safety of victims a principal consideration in all bail decisions, and at the centre of parenting and property orders.
• Flagging all family violence offences on criminal records. This will be done so the courts and police know when a person has such a history.

Key said New Zealand’s rate of family violence was “horrendous”.

“Our suite of changes are directed to earlier and more effective interventions. We are focussed on better ways to keep victims safe and changing perpetrator behaviour to stop abuse and re-abuse.”

The changes come after nearly 500 detailed submissions from individuals and groups were received after the Government released a discussion document last August.

New Zealand has the highest reported rate of intimate partner violence in the developed world.

Other changes announced today include:

  • Allowing others to apply for a protection order on a victim’s behalf, and better providing for the rights of children under protection orders. This could happen when a victim is too scared of a perpetrator to apply for an order herself. Police officers could already initiate a protection order, for example when a police safety order was breached. But the law change announced today would enable others to initiate that process.
  • Making offending while on a protection order a specific aggravating factor in sentencing.
  • Letting people refer themselves to services to help stop violence, such as giving the perpetrator access to non-violence programmes, without them having to go to court.
  • Make it easier for the sharing of information between the courts, police and the agencies and community organisations that deal with families.

The announcement follows a Herald campaign ran earlier this year addressing family violence.

Key said the changes would cost about $130 million over four years. Legislation is expected to be introduced to Parliament early next year.

“These changes have the potential to significantly reduce family violence.

“New Zealanders generally resist government interference in their private lives, and I get that.

“But let me say straight up that in households where anyone is being assaulted, threatened, intimidated, belittled or deprived, the perpetrator has no right to expect privacy so they can go on being a bully.”

Key said the increase in protection orders expected under the changes is expected to lead to 12300 fewer violent offences each year.

The increased imprisonment of violent offenders is expected to prevent another 1100 violent offences each year, he told the audience.

“To the perpetrators of this misery I say this – recognise what is going on in your home and take responsibility for it.

“A good father, a good step-father and a good man does not hit, intimidate or control his spouse, partner, ex-partner or her children. The same goes for women who are abusers.

“If you act in a violent and controlling way, you can change this behaviour. Own the problem. Nothing will get better until you do. Ask for help. There is no shame in that.”

“New Zealanders generally resist government interference in their private lives, and I get that.

“But let me say straight up that in households where anyone is being assaulted, threatened, intimidated, belittled or deprived, the perpetrator has no right to expect privacy so they can go on being a bully.”

Key said the increase in protection orders expected under the changes is expected to lead to 12300 fewer violent offences each year.

The increased imprisonment of violent offenders is expected to prevent another 1100 violent offences each year, he told the audience.

If you’re in danger NOW:

  • Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours of friends to ring for you
    • Run outside and head for where there are other people
    • Scream for help so that your neighbours can hear you
    • Take the children with you
    • Don’t stop to get anything else
    • If you are being abused, remember it’s not your fault. Violence is never okay

Where to go for help or more information:

– NZ Herald


Shakti Celebrates 20 Years!

July 17, 2015

Join Shakti to celebrate our 20 years of serving Asian, African and Middle Eastern women, children and young people in New Zealand, Australia and internationally.

Find an event near you and bring your family & friends!

150717 Shakti Flyer

Shakti Tauranga -White Ribbon Fundraiser

November 21, 2014

Shakti Tauranga is hosting a fundraising dinner on the occasion of White Ribbon Day.

When: Saturday 22nd Nov @ 6.30pm

Where: Historic Village, 17th Ave, Tauranga

Come and join us in support and enjoy our buffet!

Click here for the flyer.



Wellington Fundraiser

November 21, 2014



“Folktree has kindly offered to organise a fundraiser for Shakti Wellington in support of our refuge! The event is going to take place in Wellington, with 4 musicians lined up to play atBaobab Cafe (Newtown) on Thursday next week, including Wellingtonian singer, Amiria Grenell, currently on tour in the South Island. There will be a silent auction of some beautiful Gond artworks (created by artists from an indigenous group in India) and selling books from an independent publisher in Chennai (Tara Books).

Click here for the facebook event, and this is the folktree webpage which explains a bit about the books and the artworks.”

So come along for some great music, artworks and awesome time.


March to change New Zealands Shame – 15th September 2014

September 11, 2014

Date: Monday, 15th September 2014

Time: 12 Noon

Where: From Civic Square, down Lambton Quay to parliament steps

Help us create an impact nationally by uniting with us and organising your own march in your area. Below is some information that will help you in doing this.

Download the march kit here

Key areas to find further information are

The official March event page |

Women’s Refuge Facebook page |

Women’s Refuge Official website |

For any further information or questions please email Claire at [email protected]

Event overview

  • A United Call to Action Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Violence in New Zealand
  • The march will take place on Monday 15th of September 2014, between 12.00pm-15.00pm.
  • The march will begin in Civic Square Wellington, where participants will gather at 11am and prepare for the March to begin.
  • At 12.00pm the march will begin, we will walk down the length of Lambton Quay, its finish point will be the Parliament steps.
  • Kate Sheppard was New Zealand’s most prominent suffragette. Now 132 years on, Women’s Refuge hopes Ms Sheppard’s image will help reduce domestic abuse against women and children. “We need to all stand up and we need to call for action, and so recognising Kate’s achievement is about calling for action as she did,” says Women’s Refuge chief executive Heather Henare.
  • The Kate Sheppard statue will be presented to the Government on the steps of parliament
  • Key speakers will talk to the crowd and deliver our key messages.

Planning your own march? Great!

We value your support and commitment and we want you to remain safe and keep to your local council’s rules in relation to holding a public march.

If you are planning your own march then please use the same day and times as the details listed above.

If you are having a march where you will meet and stay at one particular area with your banners and chants, check with your council if there are any specific requirements for the use of this area

If you plan to do a street march or footpath march to a specific place, it is best to contact your council for details and requirements/restrictions.

What you need on the day

  • Banners
  • Chants
  • A designated leader or leaders to rally together the attendees and motivate them
  • Designated marshals who are easily identified and help keep the crowd safe

What do we want from this march?


  • We want politicians, the media and members of the public to know how serious the issues of domestic and sexual violence are for the people of New Zealand
  • We want them to reflect on our history and how Kate Sheppard may have dealt with this issue.
  • We want an Independent Inquiry into systems and resourcing around domestic violence services.
  • We want a cross party government team to take leadership on this issue and commit to acceptance of the epidemic and change.
  • We want, via media cover, to let victims and survivors know that there are people out there who want the violence to stop and for their abuse to be dealt with consistently and appropriately. Nice!

Key Messages

Domestic violence and sexual violence are pervasive, life-threatening crimes that impact thousands of New Zealanders with serious physical, psychological and economic effects.


New Zealand is amongst an epidemic of violence and we must act now to break the cycle.

The people of New Zealand need to know that we can break this cycle but in order to do this we must  project our voices as one to be heard by those who have the power to make a definitive change.

Violence against women, children and families is unacceptable

At this event we will make a call to action for the Government to acknowledge the urgency and seriousness of the issues of domestic and sexual violence.

Questions and Answers:

How many people do you want and can men join in?

We want as many people as possible involved. This is an issue affects women, men and children therefore we want everyone involved.

Why did you bring the spirit of Kate back?

Because we know that she wouldn’t have stood for the levels of domestic violence occurring in this country and she would be disgraced at the current situation. We are encouraging all New Zealanders to stand up and march with us to force the Government to make an immediate commitment to work with us to end this problem once and for all.

What will you do with the finished statue of Kate?

We intend to gift Kate to the Government on the day of the march, to be kept within parliament grounds as a constant reminder of what we are marching for and the rights of women, children and families to live violence free.

What if the Government does not want her?

There will be another party that will accept her. The refusal to accept Kate could be seen as a refusal to acknowledge the seriousness of domestic and sexual violence.